WSDOT struggles to keep up on limited resources

Washington is $90 million behind in highway work

Crews work along a highway, November 2, 2016. (KOIN)
Crews work along a highway, November 2, 2016. (KOIN)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Highway maintenance in Washington State is backlogged more than $90 million, $9 of which is in our area.

There are more than 20,000 highway lane miles in the state, all taken care of by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Maintenance manager Glenn Schneider admits the work load is higher than the resources that are available.

Work is prioritized based on a grading system with A being the highest priority and F being lowest.

Grade A issues are public safety issues including snow, ice, drains and potholes. F grade issues are litter and weeds cleanup.

WSDOT works with other agencies like the Department of Ecology, but it’s still not enough.

“Its frustrating, challenging,” Schneider said. “I know our people want to see us do more.”

WSDOT maintenance is funded through the gas tax, which is about $.50 per gallon — but only $.08 goes to state highways and then only a sliver goes to highway maintenance.

There are also taxes coming from the new Connecting Washington program, but even that number is low.

“Unfortunately maintenance gets left behind a little bit because as we build up more and new, we don’t always keep up with the maintenance budget,” Schneider said.

The puts WSDOT in a tough situation because there’s plenty of work to do to maintain highways.

“They are still out there 24/7,” Schneider said. “They are proud of their work, the are doing an awesome job, we wish we could do more.”