Investing $7 billion in Washington’s transportation system would generate $42 billion in economic benefits, according to a study released October 21. This would include creating 184,000 jobs and reducing the cost of future road repairs by $650 million. The savings would be widespread over 30 years: $2.1 billion in time and operating costs for Washington residents, $15.9 billion for businesses and $5.6 billion in savings for the state government.

The Washington Roundtable, a non-profit public policy organization, and the Boston Consulting Group examined the fiscal impact of investment in the state’s transportation network over a 12 year period.

Some of the specific benefits include:

  • $2 billion in additional general fund tax revenue;
  • A savings of $600 million annually in business supply chain costs;
  • Ability to complete necessary port expansions;
  • Reduction of congestion by four million hours annually, providing an average saving of $85 per year for Washington drivers; and
  • Decline in the number of roads considered to be in poor condition by 25 percent, saving drivers an average of $160 annually.

If the investment is not made in Washington’s transportation system:

  • Congestion is predicted to increase to 109 million hours annually, which will cost drivers $940 per year;
  • Maintenance costs will rise to $1040 annually for drivers as road quality decreases;
  • 40 percent of bridges will become “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient”;
  • Highway repair costs will escalate and become nine times more expensive at $2.7 million per mile; and
  • Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will face flat or declining trade volumes.

Steve Mullin, Washington Roundtable president, stated, “The return on investment is overwhelmingly positive and the data paints a stark picture of what will happen without action. Transportation has to be a priority for the legislature in 2015.”

Read the full report.