About the Assessment

Just the Facts on Road Usage Charges
Road Usage Charge Folio

This site provides information on the Road Usage Charge Assessment. With a road usage charge system, we would pay for the roads as we do for other public utilities—based on how much we use them.

For almost a century, the motor fuel tax (or gas tax) has been a stable source of funding for our road network. It remains our primary source of transportation funding, supporting 76% of all state transportation investments, but it is not sustainable over the long term (Connecting Washington Task Force, Final Report 2012).

Population and vehicle miles traveled will continue to increase but vehicles will burn less gasoline – resulting in less revenue to maintain and operate our roadway system. To ensure a well maintained system, the move to cleaner, smarter vehicles must
be accompanied by a change in the way we pay for our roads. This approaching situation has caused leaders around the U.S. to look for alternatives.

Purpose of Steering Committee

Here in Washington, the Legislature directed the Washington State Transportation Commission, in coordination with the Washington State Department of Transportation, to work with a diversified stakeholder Steering Committee to examine the feasibility of transitioning from the gas tax to a road usage charge, which would charge drivers by the mile rather than by the gallon as currently done, and to explore policy issues, evaluate the business case, and lay out a path to potential implementation.

Past work

In 2012/2013, the Steering Committee conducted a feasibility assessment, and in 2013/2014 they evaluated the business case for road usage charging in Washington. These reports can be found on the Materials page.

Current work

During the 2014 Legislative session, the Legislature provided funding to the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) “..to further develop the concept of a road usage charge system.”  The following activities are required as part of the work plan:

  • Refinement of initial policy analysis and development
  • A concept of operations that incorporates refined policy inputs
  • A financial analysis evaluating the operational concept
  • The work plan and recommendations, along with a proposed work plan and budget for the 2015-2017 fiscal biennium, must be submitted by the commission to the transportation committees of the legislature by January 15, 2015.

Click here to view the budget proviso. (see section 205 (3) on page 10).