What Is the TBD?

 Thurston County's Transportation System

Thurston County’s transportation system consists of over 1,000 miles of roadway, 118 bridges, 106 miles of sidewalks, 47 miles of trails, tens of thousands of traffic control signs, and more than 1,000 street lights, along with a stormwater drainage and retention system. The system is the lifeblood of the local economy, connecting Thurston County’s more than 280,000 residents to jobs, services, and other opportunities inside and outside the County.

 Public Works

Public Works operates and maintains County roadways and traffic control system devices. Roadway maintenance includes asphalt repairs, roadside mowing to improve line-of-sight for drivers, and drainage system improvements to prevent flooding. Traffic control system maintenance includes installing or fixing traffic signs, street lights, and traffic signals. To ensure safety and improved traffic conditions, Public Works also performs traffic studies and planning, revises speed limits as necessary, and improves the overall transportation system.

 Transportation Benefit District Background

Washington State law allows cities and counties to create a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) that collects certain fees and taxes to help implement transportation projects within its boundaries. This legislation protects the revenue raised by the TBD by not allowing it to be used on other county programs. For more information about Washington State TBD Legislation, click here.

In 2014, Thurston County created a TBD covering the unincorporated areas of the County. It does not include any incorporated cities or towns, but it does include the urban growth areas just outside the city limits of the cities and towns.

The goal is to invest revenue raised by the TBD to improve Thurston County’s transportation network by making roads safer, increasing our investment in preservation, and updating our technology.


System Preservation

Poor road conditions are estimated to cost each Washington driver $656 worth of vehicle wear and tear every year*. We can keep roads in good shape by performing regular maintenance and preservation activities. TBD revenue can help fund roadway maintenance that reduces vehicle wear and tear costs for drivers, but also offers substantial cost savings for taxpayers. Minor roadway repairs can save 90% or more per mile compared to the cost of major reconstruction.
*Source: 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, American Society of Civil Engineers

Example Projects (images of each)

  • Pavement overlays
  • Surface restoration
  • Infrastructure rehabilitation

Source: Fehr & Peers

Roadway Safety

Traffic collisions are the 4th leading cause of death for Thurston County residents – between 2013 and 2017, there were 132 fatal and serious injury collisions in Thurston County*. Washington State has adopted Target Zero — a goal to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Washington's roadways to zero by the year 2030. Funds from the TBD will help Thurston County achieve Target Zero.

*Source: Washington State Department of Transportation

Example Projects

  • Providing or replacing rumble strips (alerts drivers)
  • Installing high friction surfacing at critical locations (allows cars to stop quicker to avoid hazards)
  • Implement projects identified in the County-wide Local Road Safety Plan (identifies high priority projects of low, medium and high cost, allowing dollars to be focused to get the biggest safety improvements for the least cost)
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    Updated Technology

    Investing TBD funds in state-of-the-art transportation technologies can improve the efficiency of our transportation system by reducing travel times, improving safety, and streamlining maintenance and reducing energy use.

    Example Projects

    • Transit/emergency vehicle signal priority (reduces travel time)
    • Pedestrian crossing beacons (improves pedestrian safety)
    • LED street light conversion (improves visibility, reduces power consumption and maintenance)


     Potential Funding Sources

    State law allows TBDs to collect two types of fees: board approved and voter approved fees. The TBD Board is considering two potential funding sources – (1) car tab fees requiring board approval and (2) a sales tax requiring voter approval.

    Board approved fees
    Annual vehicle license (car tab) fees that start at $20 per year and can increase to no more than $50 after 4 years

    Voter approved fees
    A sales and use tax up to 0.2%, equivalent to 2 cents on a $10 purchase

    Other funding options available but not being considered at this time
    Property tax—1-year excess levy
    Vehicle tolls