Transportation official: 'Road-usage charge' gaining momentum

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 18 at 8:30 AM

OLYMPIA, Wash .— Washington drivers may want to get used to a new phrase: road-usage charge.

As cars become more fuel efficient, the state’s looking for a replacement for the gas tax.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is putting together a list of recommendations for lawmakers to debate in January.

Charging passenger car drivers per mile will likely be part of the plan.

“This seems to have some momentum,” said commission vice-chair Tom Cowan.

How drivers will be tracked and how much they will pay is still to be determined.

Commission members are discussing recommending three options for drivers:

  • They could pay a flat fee, which would likely be more expensive, but more convenient.
  • Drivers could have their odometers routinely checked by the state. Drivers choosing that option would be charged for travel outside of the state.
  • Motorists would also have the option of using a GPS device to track their mileage. That option would prevent drivers from being charged for interstate driving.

Cowan said lawmakers have made it clear if drivers are charged for their mileage, they would be exempt from paying any gas tax.

Consultants working for the state are looking at what the impact would be if the state’s gas tax was eliminated.

Some in Olympia fear the state would lose out on gas tax revenue from out of state drivers. Cowan said any changes are still at least five years away.

Pilot programs could be started as soon as January 2016 if lawmakers approve a plan during the 2015 session.
 

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