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Washington lawmakers considering 2.4 cents per-mile Road Usage Charge

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The growing number of fuel-efficient and electric vehicles on Washington roads has prompted lawmakers to consider replacing the gas tax with a Road Usage Charge.

The new tax would charge drivers 2.4 cents for every mile they drive. The fee would replace the gas tax, which adds 49.4 cents per gallon of gasoline you buy.

Supporters say the new charge, on average, would not cost drivers more money.

Here's an explanation from the frequently asked questions section on the Road Usage Charge website:

Assuming the average vehicle per year travels 12,000 miles, this breaks down to 1,000 miles traveled per month. If we apply the road usage charge pilot’s rate of 2.4 cents per mile, this equates to a total of $24 per month, or $288 on an annual basis.

Currently, drivers pay an average of $289.17 a year under the gas tax.

For the next 12 months, about 2,000 volunteers from across the state will begin testing the new Road Usage Charge. Lawmakers hope the pilot program will answer questions like, "what if I drive out of state" and "how will the miles be reported without using GPS data."

Lawmakers discussed the upcoming launch of the statewide pilot program in a Transportation Commission meeting Thursday in Olympia.

Washington received a federal grant to fund the pilot project. Six other states received similar grants: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, Minnesota, and Missouri.

Supporters say the new charge is needed to provide a more sustainable, long-term funding source for transportation infrastructure.