Thoughts on the 2023-2025 Transportation Budget

Updates from Olympia


On Sunday, April 23rd, the Washington State Legislature adjourned sine die for the 2023 session.

For those less familiar with the legislative process, sine die is a Latin term for “without day” that signals the conclusion of a legislative session and, by extension, consideration of all pending legislation with it. Prior to adjourning, the Legislature adopted their 2023 supplemental and 2023-2025 biennial transportation budgets, which are currently awaiting Governor Inslee's signature for approval.

Those budgets, and the legislative session, were a mixed bag for the County Road Administration Board.

While the State of Washington has made significant investments into infrastructure over the past few years, our agency has not benefited proportionately. Unfortunately, 2023 was no different and it will continue to hinder the valuable work we do here at CRAB. As noted in our newsletter, we are committed to digging into the underlying issues behind these decisions and exploring strategies for moving forward as an agency.

In the meantime, here is a brief overview of the budgets that came out of session:

Reductions to RATA Funding

For the 2021-2023 Supplemental Budget, the Legislature reduced the amount of transfer from the State’s Motor Vehicle Account (MVA) to the Rural Arterial Trust Account (RATA) from $9,331k to $4,844k. CRAB has already received, and used, $8,165k from this transfer which will result in CRAB having to return $3,321k from RATA to the Motor Vehicle Account (MVA). This was a disappointing late development that will have long-term impacts on the RATA account.

Agency Requests Approved, but Funding Concerns Remain

Our agency’s 2023-25 Operating Budget requests have all been approved; however, the funding sources for those approvals were not in line with our requests. Specifically, we requested funds for legacy software replacement ($482k) and a grant effectiveness study ($250k) to support our efforts to best serve counties. Instead of funding them through MVA, the budget funded them through RATA which was unexpected and frustrating.

The legacy software replacement costs are ongoing maintenance and operating expenses related to CRAB’s compliance mandate. We believe these costs are core to our mission and should be funded through MVA dollars, not county perseveration fundsAdditionally, the Legislature proposed the agency take on a role assisting counties, cities and tribes in applying for federal grants. The proposal was then approved, but at the expense of counties because it, too, was funded solely by RATA.

Approvals for Move Ahead, MVA and a Ferry 

The 2023-25 Capital Budget support from Move Ahead Washington was approved at $9,333k. The transfer from the MVA to both RATA and CAPA was approved at $4,844k for each fund. These dollars are appreciated and will go towards county preservation and maintenance activities. Our agency also recommended Whatcom County receive $1,000k per biennium for replacement of the Whatcom Chief ferry, which was approved.

Dams, Work Groups, and Jurisdictions

The state transportation budget included allocations for several studies of interest, including:

- Lower Snake River Dams - $500,000 

The Joint Transportation Committee will study the impact to freight and goods transport if the Lower Snake River dams are breached.  This study will include state and local roads as well as rail impacts. It will be important for counties to pay attention to, particularly those that border the Snake River. Stay tuned for additional information.

- WSDOT and Local Jurisdiction Work Group - $300,000 

The Joint Transportation Committee will contract with Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC)  to convene a WSDOT – Local Government partnership work group to create a procedure in which WSDOT can partner with a local jurisdiction to perform preservation and maintenance and construct projects on state highways.

- Route Jurisdiction Work Study - $500,000 

The Transportation Commission will conduct a study aimed at assessing the current state highway inventory and local road designations to determine if changes are needed in jurisdictional assignments between the state, county, and city road systems.

These two final work groups, and their recommendations, could result in significant, lasting impacts on county capital responsibilities. They will be important conversations to be at the table for, and the County Road Administration Board will be an active participant.

Capitol Building


While the County Road Administration Board is grateful to the Legislature for their investments in our agency, we are disappointed in how they chose to fund many of the investments.

We are committed to the success of our counties and our state, and we will be actively engaging in conversations with stakeholders and decisionmakers regarding the future of preservation and maintenance funding for county road departments, as well as the studies of interest noted above.

Please do hesitate to reach out to us with thoughts, questions or follow up. 


Jane Wall
Jane Wall
Executive Director