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Performance-Based Evaluation Proviso – Overview and Purpose

The Washington State Legislature directed WSDOT to study how to evaluate transportation projects.

That direction is in Proviso Sec. 218. 2019 c 416 s 218 (uncodified).

Performance-based evaluation is a way to measure how much a project would help the transportation system meet goals set by the Legislature. This would help decision-makers choose which projects to fund.

Multimodal transportation

Why are we studying this?

For one reason, it’s because WSDOT is required to produce a report by end of this year.

For another, the state has many more transportation projects than available funding — which means the Legislature needs to make difficult decisions. So we’re looking at:

  • How WSDOT informs the Legislature
  • Whether a new way to evaluate projects would help the Legislature make decisions

What have we heard so far?

We interviewed WSDOT staff and listened to stakeholder groups. So far, we’ve heard the following:

  • Levels of understanding vary widely about how the state picks transportation projects.
  • The current decision-making is hard for people to understand without a lot of experience.
  • Preserving and maintaining existing facilities should take priority over new projects.
  • Performance-based evaluation may bring more projects to more populated, urban areas, but leave out rural interests.
  • Equity is important, with a focus on historically neglected interests.
  • People want to guide transportation investments by clear standards.