Long road ahead as Washington transportation officials recommend per-mile charge to replace the state’s gas tax

If Washington wants to shift from taxing drivers per gallon of gas to charging per mile they drive, lawmakers should make the change slowly and consider starting with electric cars, state transportation officials agreed Tuesday.

The Washington State Transportation Commission approved a set of recommendations to the state Legislature outlining broad ideas about how Washington could move from the gas tax to a per-mile fee known as a road usage charge.

Any widespread adoption of such a tax is likely years away. But Tuesday’s vote takes the idea one step closer to formal consideration in Olympia and offers a preview of debates likely to play out around the tax. Particularly acute in an era of climate crisis: Should money from the tax be spent on roads alone?