The State Senate yesterday passed and sent on to the House a plan to spend $16.1 billion on transportation projects over the next 16 years. The Spokesman-Review reports that the transportation budget raises gas taxes 11.9 cents per gallon over two years. The tax would go up by 7 cents this Aug. 1 and 4.9 cents on July 1, 2016. It also increases weight fees for trucks and passenger vehicles and levies a $5 fee on all new studded tires sold after July 1, 2016.

During the 16-year span of the budget, it would spend more than $1 billion on Spokane-area projects, including $879 million to complete the North Spokane Corridor.

Also on the project list for our area: $26.5 million over the next four years for the Medical Lake/Geiger interchange project on the West Plains, and about the same amount to expand I-90 between Barker and Harvard roads in Spokane Valley.

The University District Gateway Bridge would get $8.8 million, and improvements to U.S. Highway 195 between Colfax and Spangle total $17.6 million during the next six years. And $47 million would be set aside for renovations of the Palouse River – Coulee City Railroad. The Spokane Central Line, a transit project in the city of Spokane, would receive $15 million.

The House will take up the transportation budget today. If it passes without any amendments, it also will go directly to Inslee. 

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