OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Could the collapse of the Skagit River bridge help pass a gas tax increase in Olympia?
“You’d think it would,” Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way.
Eide is the ranking member on the state Senate’s transportation commission.
In a joint, written statement Eide and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, called the collapse a “wake up call” for lawmakers to make a “long-term investment of our state’s infrastructure demands.”
During the current special session, lawmakers are discussing a possible 10 cent a gallon gas tax increase.
The money raised would pay for a new bridge over the Columbia River into Portland and would extend highways to the Port of Tacoma.
Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said the tax increase would also raise more than $900 million for repairs to the state's oldest roads and bridges.
While the Skagit River Bridge was not slated for any repairs, Clibborn said what happened “raises awareness that transportation is so critical.”
Clibborn said she thinks the collapse “probably” helps generate support for the gas tax proposal.
But Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, said the incident should make lawmakers “reprioritize” where transportation dollars are spent.
Alexander said that can be done without raising the gas tax.
“Let’s make sure we have an infrastructure today that is reliable, safe and we’re making that and protecting that before we look at new highway projects,” said Alexander.