Amazon supports the bipartisan trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal currently working its way through Congress because it will help modernize and decarbonize America’s transportation system and keep our country competitive. Now it’s time for Washington state to advance those same goals and complement federal funding through a statewide transportation investment package.
A new state investment in transportation will help accelerate the region’s economic recovery. In fact, a study by the Washington Roundtable found that transportation investments save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars per year in supply-chain costs, increase productivity, and enable freight mobility and port expansion that helps businesses grow exports and jobs. A transportation package will help keep Washington competitive by funding badly needed infrastructure programs, projects, and services that support affordable housing, better commutes, and improved quality of life for all. Valuable public assets like roads, bridges, ferries, and buses will benefit from investments in maintenance and preservation.
A broad coalition of local governments, labor, environmental groups, and businesses, including Amazon, supports a state investment in transportation to sustain the region’s economic development. Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are growing on the Eastside, and within the next few years Amazon will bring 25,000 new jobs to the Bellevue area. We’re partnering with state and local governments to ensure this growth is responsible, sustainable, and positive for the broader community. We’re building offices adjacent to light rail stations, investing in electric delivery vans, funding housing equity, providing free transit cards to our employees, and supporting commuter options like bus rapid transit and bike and walking trails. And Amazon is putting skin in the game with a new $7.5 million investment to complete two key segments of the Eastrail project in Bellevue. But more state transportation funding is needed to reduce congestion, improve safety, grow jobs, and help address climate change.
It’s not just roads and bridges that will reap the benefits of a state transportation package. Our endangered salmon will benefit from new culverts and stormwater projects. And we’ll be able to take the next step on important investments in clean transportation like electric vehicles, electric ferries, and transit that particularly benefits low-income groups and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Governor Jay Inslee, legislative leadership, and the Chairs of the State Senate and House Transportation Committees understand that passing a package is necessary, and they have signaled their intent to call a special session in November. A federal infrastructure package would help alleviate some state budget pressures, but it would only complement and not replace a statewide package. However, parts of a state package have the potential to receive matching funds from the federal government, further increasing the positive impacts. The economic benefits are clear; through improved infrastructure, Washington state can spur jobs and long-term economic development. Lawmakers should convene a special session during the November legislative Committee Days to move it across the finish line.