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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed a bipartisan transportation investment package to address key safety, maintenance and congestion issues across the state.The 16-year, $16 billion "Connecting Washington" package includes $1.3 billion for non-highway projects, such as those involving rail, transit and bike paths. It also authorizes Sound Transit to seek voter approval for $15 billion to extend the Seattle-area light-rail system.Other investments include freight-rail improvements, as well as alternative rule tax credits and commute trip reduction programs.The package is expected to create about 200,000 jobs, staffers from Inslee's office said in a press release."This package represents the largest single investment in transportation in state history,” Inslee said in a prepared statement.The new package also includes reforms aimed at increasing accountability and ensuring that projects are delivered on time and on budget, officials said.Projects and investments will be funded largely by additional gas tax revenue, with a 7-cent increase slated to begin Aug. 1, followed by a 4.9-cent hike in July 2016.
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