The legislature finds that:
(1) Washington state is uniquely positioned as a gateway to the global economy. As the most trade-dependent state in the nation, per capita, Washington's economy is highly dependent on an efficient multimodal transportation network in order to remain competitive.
(2) The vitality of the state's economy is placed at risk by growing traffic congestion that impedes the safe and efficient movement of goods. The absence of a comprehensive and coordinated state policy that facilitates freight movements to local, national, and international markets limits trade opportunities.
(3) Freight corridors that serve international and domestic interstate and intrastate trade, and those freight corridors that enhance the state's competitive position through regional and global gateways are strategically important. In many instances, movement of freight on these corridors is diminished by: Barriers that block or delay access to intermodal facilities where freight is transferred from one mode of transport to another; conflicts between rail and road traffic; constraints on rail capacity; highway capacity constraints, congestion, and condition; waterway system depths that affect capacity; and institutional, regulatory, and operational barriers.
(4) The negative impacts of freight transportation do not fall equally on all residents of Washington, and historically the negative impacts have been concentrated or felt most acutely within overburdened communities. Overburdened communities and vulnerable populations tend to be disproportionately located next to industrial areas and freight facilities such as ports, rail yards, highways, and truck stops. As such, the incidence of many health conditions, traffic accidents involving nondrivers, and highways dividing communities are among the highest in these communities. Freight mobility improvement efforts must prevent or minimize community impacts in areas of high freight movements and must encourage the active participation of communities in the early stages of proposed public and private infrastructure investments.
(5) Greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation contribute to global climate change. In keeping with RCW 70A.45.020
, freight mobility efforts must facilitate a transition to zero-emissions technology and proposed public and private infrastructure investments must align with this transition. Projects that invest in zero-emissions vehicle refueling and transportation patterns and zero-emissions freight movement corridors should be included within the investment program.
(6) Ownership of the freight mobility network is fragmented and spread across various public jurisdictions, private companies, and state and national borders. Transportation projects have grown in complexity and size, requiring more resources and longer implementation time frames. Currently, there is no comprehensive and integrated framework for planning the freight mobility needs of public and private stakeholders in the freight transportation system. A coordinated planning process should identify new infrastructure investments that are integrated by public and private planning bodies into a multimodal and multijurisdictional network in all areas of the state, urban and rural, east and west. The state should integrate freight mobility goals with state policy on related issues such as economic development, growth management, and environmental management.
(7) State investment in projects that enhance or mitigate freight movements, should pay special attention to solutions that utilize a corridor solution to address freight mobility issues with important transportation and economic impacts beyond any local area. The corridor approach builds partnerships and fosters coordinated planning among jurisdictions and the public and private sectors.
(8) It is the policy of the state of Washington that limited public transportation funding and competition between freight and general mobility improvements for the same fund sources require strategic, prioritized freight investments that reduce barriers to freight movement, maximize cost-effectiveness, yield a return on the state's investment, require complementary investments by public and private interests, and solve regional freight mobility problems. State financial assistance for freight mobility projects must leverage other funds from all potential partners and sources, including federal, county, city, port district, and private capital.