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Inside Olympia — Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar

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This week host Austin Jenkins spends the full hour with with Washington Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar.

The Washington Department of Transportation is responsible for 20,000 highway lane miles, 21 state ferries and 20 terminals, 15 airports, a shortline railroad, and the Amtrak Cascades rail service. This system moves an estimated $700 billion in annual freight through our state. The DOT’s listed priorities include safety, moving people and goods, preparing for natural disaster, fish passage and climate change.

Millar said safety is becoming a major concern and issue for the DOT. During COVID, traffic fatalities spiked, along with instances of speeding. Largely due to those dangers, DOT is partially reversing a decades-long push to move road work to night hours, in order to avoid inconveniencing drivers. But the dangers of night work is bringing more road work — and more traffic problems — back to daylight hours.

The DOT plans to ask the 2023 Legislature for authority to deploy automated traffic cameras in work zones, to catch speeders. This is a program that was piloted several years ago but is not permanent — for that the DOT needs an OK from the Legislature.

Jenkins and Millar discuss the $17-billion “Move Ahead Washington” package approved by the 2022 Legislature. The package includes $5.4 billion for carbon reduction and multimodal transportation, $3 billion for maintenance and preservation, $3 billion for public transportation, $2.4 billion for court-mandated fish passage, $1 billion for a new I-5 Columbia River bridge, and $836 million for four new hybrid-electric ferries.

Other topics discussed in the interview: Washington State ferries, transportation workforce shortages, the future of transportation, homeless encampments on public rights of way, and more.

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