OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state is one step closer to charging drivers for every mile they drive.
Facing declining gas tax revenues from more efficient cars, lawmakers have asked the state's Transportation Commission to look at alternatives for raising money to maintain and build state roads.
If state lawmakers follow the recommendation passed Tuesday by the state's Transportation Commission, drivers could start testing the so-called road usage charge in 2017.
Implementation across the state could come at least two years later.
The state is looking at giving drivers choices how to pay for the miles they drive. Drivers could pay for a yearly permit or attach a device to their cars. Motorists would not have their locations tracked, just the miles driven.
But Commission Chair Anne Haley made it clear the state is still in the study phase. She said commissioners are aware of the privacy and fairness concerns the idea generates for some drivers.
"It's a wickedly complex problem with many players," said Haley.
Haley said any road usage charges would not replace the state's gas tax.
She said it's the best way to get out-of-state drivers to pay their fair share.
But Haley said the state would ensure Washington drivers paying the road usage charges would not be double-taxed and would receive credit for any gas taxes paid at the pump.