Transit head testifies in Olympia

Free bikes in transportation plan

OLYMPIA — A $16.8 billion, 16-year transportation funding plan continued its course through the state Legislature with a committee hearing that included brief testimony from Clallam Transit’s general manager.

Kevin Gallacci’s scheduled 90-second statement Thursday to the House Transportation Committee, which includes 24th District Rep. Mike Chapman of Port Angeles, was cut to 60 seconds due to the abundance of speakers, Gallacci said Friday.

The funding plan proposed by House and Senate Democrats and approved by the Senate along party lines includes $30.5 million for the U.S. Highway 101-Simdars bypass project.

As part of a statewide plan, grants of $950,000 for Clallam Transit and $410,000 for Jefferson Transit will be available to fund free fares for youth 18 and younger.

“I am here in support of this proposed transportation package,” Gallacci told the lawmakers.

“A portion of our services are currently supported by state and federal grants, but for us to improve upon our service and provide better access for all in our community, long term, it is important the state further invest in transit as this proposed transportation package does.”

He had to make a quick fix on his longer presentation.

“I also wanted to talk a little about support for zero-emissions funding but 60 seconds goes quick,” Gallacci said Friday in an email.

The package also includes $3 billion statewide for transit fleet and service grants, and funding for bus electrification projects across the state.

“We are moving in that direction,” Gallacci said Friday in an interview, adding that Clallam Transit has a grant pending for electric buses.

The agency is preparing a request for qualifications to provide a feasibility study to run hydrogen-electric buses as well.

“This package is going to help get us there financially,” Gallacci said.

The package includes a schools-based bike safety and cycling-access grant program for grades 3-12.

“Participating youth will have the opportunity to receive a bike, lock, helmet, and lights free of charge with program participation,” according to the bill report (

Jefferson Transit General Manager Tammi Rubert could not be reached Friday for comment.

Chapman said Sequim City Council member Vicki Lowe also testified on the transportation package. She could not be reached Friday for comment.

The transportation plan, funded in part by a tax on fuel exports that could raise $2 billion, also includes $2.43 billion for culvert replacement statewide.

Chapman said there are “easily” at least two to three dozen culverts in Clallam and Jefferson counties that must be replaced to restore salmon passage and comply with a 2018 state Supreme Court decision.

“The fact that we have fully funded the program in this budget is huge,” he said Friday.

“[Salmon] come out of the Strait (of Juan de Fuca) and hit a culvert right away. We’ve got miles and miles of … salmon habitat above the state highways.

“These barriers have been a priority for me, and certainly Steve and Kevin,” Chapman said, referring to the 24th District’s other two lawmakers, Rep. Steve Tharinger of Port Townsend and Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim.

Van De Wege expects the transporation package will reach Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for his signature and said Sequim-area road improvements have been a long coming.

A supplemental operating budget will be released soon, Van De Wege said.

Thursday is the last day to pass bills out of committee from the opposite house except for House fiscal committees and the Transportation and Ways and Means committees in the Senate.

“I think the end is in sight,” Van De Wege said of the session.

Tharinger, chair of the Capital Budget Committee, said Thursday capital budget spending plan will be released Monday, then will go into conference, with a final budget expected by Feb. 28.

Housing will be one focus of the proposal.

Tharinger, a member of the Health Care and Wellness Committee, said in coming days the panel will hear five or six bills on topics including drug pricing and affordability.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at