A new Association of Washington Business (AWB) transportation report highlights employer concerns about transportation.
Aging infrastructure, bottlenecks at key ports and continued concerns about the financing of future projects are just a few of the top transportation worries for Washington state employers. That’s according to a new report published today by AWB, issued today during AWB’s 2013 Legislative Day in Olympia.
“In many ways, transportation is the lifeblood of our economy. We rely on our bridges, roadways, water, rail and airways to move people, goods and services on a daily basis. Any delays can have big economic impacts for business and our overall competitiveness as a state,” said AWB President Don Brunell.
The report captures the findings of focus groups held with purchasers and suppliers of transportation and logistics services around the state in the fall of 2012. AWB member companies were invited to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns about the economic, regulatory and workforce challenges faced by their industry. Sessions were held in Moses Lake, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Renton, Seattle, Bremerton, Yakima and Mount Vernon.
“Transportation infrastructure is a critical piece in building a strong economy and providing jobs,” said Mike Ennis, AWB government affairs director for transportation policy. “Traffic congestion, choke points, and crumbling roads create risk, drive up costs and act as a drag on the economy. It’s clear from this report and other feedback we’ve received from our members that the current transportation revenue streams are not adequate,” said Ennis.
“This session, we are working closely with lawmakers and other key stakeholders to find solutions that will preserve the projects currently in place and prioritize those next in the queue.”
Among the report’s key findings:
· Infrastructure Needs: Several transportation projects have been identified in the state that are critical to business growth, including the North South Freeway in Spokane; completion of State Routes 520 in Seattle and 167 in south King and north Pierce counties; and the Columbia River Crossing in Vancouver.
· Funding: There is a lack of maintenance and operation funding for existing transportation infrastructure and the decline in the purchasing power of gas tax revenue has put new projects in jeopardy.
· Overregulation: Overregulation for the transportation and logistics industry makes it difficult to provide efficient services to business.
· Environmental Mitigation: Costs of environmental mitigation studies and programs are redundant leading to increased project costs and long delays in project completion.
· Port Bottlenecks: Bottlenecks at the Port of Seattle continue to frustrate efforts to get goods to market in a timely manner.
· Workforce Needs: The combination of an aging workforce and a dwindling pipeline of new workers is threatening the viability of the transportation industry.