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Old September 9th, 2007, 09:36 AM   #1
Bond James Bond
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The Proposition 1 (RTID) Thread

Since Proposition 1 is the big, upcoming transit/roads issue which will be the center of attention around here for the next couple months, I thought it would be a good idea to make a dedicated thread. Please put all news and commentary on it here.

I'll start off with an article.

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http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...tation09m.html

Sunday, September 9, 2007 - Page updated at 12:11 AM
Record-setting tax plan wraps roads, rail in 1 fragile package
By Andrew Garber
Seattle Times Olympia bureau

OLYMPIA — It's hard to find a political leader in love with the nearly $18 billion roads-and-transit tax package on the November ballot.

Among the complaints: The plan spreads projects too thinly, doesn't fully address some of the region's most pressing traffic problems and imposes the wrong set of taxes.

Yet most of the leaders want voters in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties to pass the biggest tax package ever placed on the ballot in this state, arguing it does enough good to warrant support.

"I don't think we'll get anything better," House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, said. "Everybody wants us to have a plan. This is the plan."

State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he doesn't want to be "one of these people who makes perfect the enemy of the good."

He supports the measure, which is called Proposition 1, but would rather use tolls to raise the money instead of the sales taxes the ballot measure proposes.

The reality is the regional roads-and-transit plan is a political compromise, said Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

It was designed to pass the King, Pierce and Snohomish county councils and get enough support to win in November. Haugen, D-Camano Island, backs the measure, in part because she thinks it's better than doing nothing.

"The thing that disturbs me is that many of these are just money down on projects that are going to cost a whole lot more in the long run," she said.

Even if the measure passes, transportation planners have identified roughly $55 billion worth of future road and transit projects in the region without funding.

Opponents of the plan include folks who don't normally agree on much of anything when it comes to transportation policy.

Transit supporters object to spending so much on roads and freeways, and highway advocates say the package won't lay enough pavement to reduce traffic congestion.

A recent Stuart Elway poll indicates the tax package has a chance, but the political campaigns on both sides are just gearing up. So far, it's a lopsided race. Supporters expect to run a multimillion-dollar campaign. Opponents report about $51,000 in contributions.

The plan would spend about $7 billion, in 2006 dollars, on more than two dozen highway and local road projects, including widening Interstate 405 and improving Mercer Street in Seattle. Almost $1 billion would go toward replacing the Highway 520 floating bridge.

Another $10.8 billion would extend Sound Transit light rail east to Redmond's Overlake area, south to Tacoma and north to 164th Street Southwest in Snohomish County, and enhance existing commuter-rail and regional bus service.

If you add inflation, financing, operations, overhead and cash reserves, the entire package is projected to cost around $38 billion by the time all the projects are finished 20 years from now.

Higher sales taxes and car-tab fees would pay for it all.

If approved, the taxes could last for decades and likely drive transportation policy for at least that long.

If the package fails, some lawmakers say there's a good chance the debate over our traffic problems would restart almost from scratch.

Let locals tax themselves

The roots of the proposal go back at least seven years. That's when a special panel on transportation set up by state lawmakers released recommendations on how to deal with the region's snarled highways.

One idea was to let local residents tax themselves to pay for the bulk of the work. The thinking was there would never be enough support for a massive statewide tax increase to pay for Seattle-area mega projects such as replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Highway 520 bridge.

So, in 2002, the Legislature created the Regional Transportation Investment District, which set about developing a three-county roads package.

At the same time, Sound Transit was pursuing a separate effort to expand its light-rail system.

State lawmakers began to worry about taking two big tax proposals to voters in separate ballot measures. Last year they decided to tie the two together, arguing that would increase the odds of passage for both.

From the beginning, officials haggled over what projects to include and exclude, and how much money each should get.

Earlier this year, for example, negotiators dropped the Alaskan Way Viaduct from the package when they decided the project didn't need additional money. The $800 million that had been set aside to help replace the viaduct with a six-lane tunnel was allocated to other projects when the tunnel was rejected.

One of the biggest compromises dealt with a proposed Cross-Base Highway, an east-west route in Pierce County that would link I-5 to Spanaway and the Frederickson industrial area.

Environmental groups hate the idea of building a road across open land. They threatened to oppose the ballot measure unless it was taken out.

Supporters say the highway would alleviate traffic congestion and open up land for development. Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg threatened to oppose the package unless the highway was kept in.

Both sides ultimately agreed to fund some work on existing roads on both ends of the proposed highway. But work on the middle section cannot start until after a mediation process in 2009.

Even if an agreement is reached, the ballot measure doesn't include enough money to complete the highway. More money would have to be found.

Early poll shows support

In an Elway poll in June, 57 percent of voters surveyed backed the ballot measure. The poll also found that the road and transit proposals drew more support together than individually.

Elway said he was struck by the level of support "even though most people thought the costs are high, thought it would not be a significant improvement and thought there are many unknowns about the future."

That suggests, he said, that people are so sick of being stuck in traffic that they'll vote for just about anything.

Another factor that may bode well for the ballot measure is the current lack of well-funded opponents.

Keep Washington Rolling, the political-action committee supporting the ballot measure, has raised more than $800,000 so far, including $200,000 from Microsoft and $75,000 from the Seattle Mariners. The PAC expects to raise several million dollars.

On the other side, lots of groups want to kill the proposal. One group, NoToProp1.Org, has raised about $51,000 and is running radio ads against the package. But apparently none of the organizations have joined forces.

The Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club supports light rail but opposes the package because the organization thinks expanding roads will lead to more traffic and more greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming.

A group called the Eastside Transportation Association contends the tax package spends too much on light rail and not enough on roads.

"I'd say a vote for this package ensures that you're going to be with congestion for the rest of time," said former Republican state Sen. Jim Horn, who heads the group.

Several neighborhood organizations based on the west side of the 520 bridge also oppose the ballot measure, saying it throws money at a new bridge without considering what the neighborhoods want.

As always, campaign money is critical in terms of who wins, said Chris Vance, a GOP consultant and former chairman of the state Republican Party.

"It's really hard when the other side is running TV commercials and all you can do is send out press releases and put up a few yard signs," he said. "If the anti side can raise significant amounts of money and cause enough doubt, they can win."

What happens if it fails?

All the opponents argue that their broader transportation agendas have a better chance of succeeding if the ballot measure loses in November.

Mike O'Brien, chairman of the Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club, says if the tax package fails, light rail would soon be back on the ballot by itself and would pass.

He also says a no vote would force the Legislature to come up with another traffic solution, such as so-called congestion pricing. In other words, use some form of tolls on I-5, I-405 and the two Lake Washington bridges to discourage driving at peak traffic times.

Horn, with the Eastside Transportation Association, says roads would emerge as a winner if the measure fails. "If it's not passed this year, the Legislature will have to step up and address it in some way," he said.

Legislators aren't sure what would happen.

It's possible light rail would reappear on the ballot fairly quickly, but fixing the region's highways is another matter. Legislative leaders predict few people would want to touch the issue in 2008 because it's an election year.

That would push any highway proposal off until 2009, and by then the debate over replacing the Highway 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct — both in danger of collapse during an earthquake — could suck up all the attention and money for years to come.

At the very least, a big question mark would again hang over central Puget Sound's transportation problem.

"If it doesn't pass we'll have to go back and figure things out — and it won't be anything of this scope," said Clibborn, the House Transportation Committee chairwoman.

Haugen, the Senate Transportation Committee chairwoman, said she sees problems no matter what happens in November.

The Legislature has already increased the state gas tax by almost 15 cents a gallon in recent years. That well is tapped out, she says. Yet billions of dollars of work is still needed statewide.

"We're facing some real crises in transportation whether this passes or not," she said
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Old September 9th, 2007, 04:44 PM   #2
citruspastels
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im absolutely voting yes. as much as i love rail, cars will be as much of an important force in 2030 as they are now. cleaner car technology will slowly evolve in the next 20 years and we dont want to screw ourselves over with letting our infrastructure fall to shit.

my main reason for voting for it though is that we need light rail now.
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Old September 9th, 2007, 06:06 PM   #3
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As much as I hate cars, we do need them just as we need transit. Like citruspastels said you can't let the infrastructure fall to ruins. Increase sales tax is a good way to go I guess.
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Old September 9th, 2007, 06:38 PM   #4
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I wonder who is going to get the blame when the Viaduct falls over during the next earthquake and kills people. As nice as this plan is on the compromise between transit and highways it would have been better if some money had been set aside for future viaduct replacement. Whether tunnel, bridge, or BLVD.
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Old September 9th, 2007, 11:09 PM   #5
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I can't find the list of all the projects this covers...anyone know where it is?
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Old September 10th, 2007, 02:33 AM   #6
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Whatever you do, DO NOT VOTE YES! Instead, VOTE NO!

I have reviewed the RTID plan several times, and I see no reason why the plan will improve transportation for the Puget Sound region for the next century or two. I know of several congested places and transit defects in certain areas that will still not be improved with the RITD.

In Snohomish County (where I live), the only way to get around is by CAR, and there is a serious lack of transit service that is convenient for me or others. To get where I need to go, I would regularly wait an hour for a bus, then make several transfers, and eventually I would realize that driving my car would be a lot easier. Also, the problem with transit in Snohomish County is a lack of bus rapid transit routes. The only one that is going into service is the SWIFT SR 99 route. How about BRT going connecting Lynnwood with Mill Creek, Everett with Mukilteo, south Snohomish County with Marysville, west Snohomish County with east Snohomish County?

Basically what I am trying to say is, VOTE NO! You will only pay more to have more congested roads, bad transit service, and eventually a crappy life in the Seattle metropolitan area. Remember Referenfum 51? Yeah, well.....I remember that failed, and so will the RTID plan.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 02:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AzChristopher View Post
I wonder who is going to get the blame when the Viaduct falls over during the next earthquake and kills people. As nice as this plan is on the compromise between transit and highways it would have been better if some money had been set aside for future viaduct replacement. Whether tunnel, bridge, or BLVD.
They already debated this a bazillion hours, and the city of Seattle had a vote, which resulted in an ambiguous outcome. They still can't decide what to replace the viaduct with, so, rather than having that one project delay everything else, they're going ahead with the "everything else" and will decide later on what to do with the viaduct.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 02:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taiwanesedrummer36 View Post
Whatever you do, DO NOT VOTE YES! Instead, VOTE NO!

I have reviewed the RTID plan several times, and I see no reason why the plan will improve transportation for the Puget Sound region for the next century or two.
Century or two???

C'mon, really! This plan isn't remotely supposed to account for everything that might happen in the next 100-200 years! Nobody in their right mind can look that far ahead!

Quote:
I know of several congested places and transit defects in certain areas that will still not be improved with the RITD.

In Snohomish County (where I live), the only way to get around is by CAR, and there is a serious lack of transit service that is convenient for me or others. To get where I need to go, I would regularly wait an hour for a bus, then make several transfers, and eventually I would realize that driving my car would be a lot easier. Also, the problem with transit in Snohomish County is a lack of bus rapid transit routes. The only one that is going into service is the SWIFT SR 99 route. How about BRT going connecting Lynnwood with Mill Creek, Everett with Mukilteo, south Snohomish County with Marysville, west Snohomish County with east Snohomish County?

Basically what I am trying to say is, VOTE NO! You will only pay more to have more congested roads, bad transit service, and eventually a crappy life in the Seattle metropolitan area. Remember Referenfum 51? Yeah, well.....I remember that failed, and so will the RTID plan.
You have to remember that they can't build everything at once. Some of those other things you mentioned might get built later.

I also think it's very selfish to vote against it just because it doesn't happen to have everything *you* want in *your* area. The plan will result in A LOT of road and transit improvements for A LOT of people in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Have you no consideration for them?

Here is the list of projects by county:
http://www.rtid.org/docs/mtg06_08_07...une_8_2007.pdf
^
Here's one thing it says for Snohomish County:
Quote:
Transit & Multimodal Improvement Project
• (SR 104) Multimodal Terminal: Edmonds Crossing Ferry and Transit
Bus/Van Fleet Expansion and Park & Ride Facilities in North County and SR 9
^
The part I underlined sounds like it might contain some of the things you mentioned. So, don't be so sure it won't do what you want it to do.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 03:35 AM   #9
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Of course I'm voting yes. About 80% of the funding is for stuff we absolutely need, and I'll hold my nose on the 405 widening and cross-base highway.

The requirement for only a simple majority on both measures is a big reason for optimism, along with the 57% poll number, though it's still anyone's game at this point.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 06:12 PM   #10
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I think the public needs to see our leaders do what they say they'll do. Tax-payers are a little gun shy about YES voting after the whole monorail debacle and the incredibly stalled then slowly moving and overpriced light rail. To be honest, I'm pleased with all the "Its Your Nickel" projects I see. People need to see what they voted for and how it all comes together.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 07:31 PM   #11
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I'm a big transit backer, but at this point I'm leaning towards a "no" vote. this is predicated on the facts that 1) ST would make the ballot and win the following year 2) legislature is 2/3 dems, so its unlikely a pro-roads bill would come out there next session 3)the lag from passage of ST project to completion is so long that another year or delay won't make much difference, in fact, the critical path to completion on these projects is not construction time, its timing tax revenues with bonding capacity, so conceivably there might not be any delay with waiting a year.

Read the roads proejcts again. Not only are we expanding 405 and building a cross base, but many of the Snoco improvements expand 2-laners to 4 lanes.

More importantly, we need to tolling for demand management....In my ideal world, the package would be:

-5B for 520
-1B for 167/405 HOV completion
-500M for tolling implemtation
-toss in 500M for "safety related" improvements regionwide, no new SOV capacity
-6B light rail to Overlake, Lynwood, Federal Way (expansions north and south of those points "proved" by BRT first)
=13B
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Old September 10th, 2007, 07:45 PM   #12
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I wish they would just jack up the gas price even more, it's way more efficient then tolling or subjecting our already high sales tax. for those people that complain about our already high gas tax, don't worry, a 20 cent rise for taxes will be peanuts compared to the coming prices...
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Old September 10th, 2007, 07:52 PM   #13
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Transit would have a hard time passing in 2008 if it had already failed once, and with an unresolved roads measure looming. Two of the major problems would be the "what part of no don't they understand" dynamic and the "nothing until 520 is fixed" dynamic. Further, there's evidence that the road and transit measures are helping each other -- enough people want their favorite part enough that they're willing to swallow the parts they don't like.

In other words, if you demand a perfect resolution or nothing, you'll probably keep getting nothing. RTID's good far outweighs the bad, and it's by far the best chance we have to get transit done, along with a 520 replacement.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 07:54 PM   #14
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Check that -- the 520 replacement will get done one way or another...on a Minneapolis-type (or I-90 type) emergency method if necessary. The RTID version has better environmental, neighborhood, and fiscal parameters than the emergency option.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 08:14 PM   #15
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Of course, I will vote yes. We need that.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 10:01 PM   #16
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I will both vote yes and campaign harder than I've ever campaigned before. Bumper stickers, yard signs, cold-calling, I don't care. This has to happen.
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Old September 11th, 2007, 02:50 AM   #17
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I am voting yes....
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Old September 11th, 2007, 05:19 AM   #18
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I'm voting yes.

However, I wish they were a bit more aggressive on some highways...ideally I'd want it to be:


-Rebuild 520 from a 4 lane to a 6+2 configuration with transit option in middle.
-Expanding 167 from 4+2 to 8+2
-Expanding 405 (Renton to Bellevue) from 4+2 to 8+2 through S-curves
-Continue 167 to Tacoma from Puyallup.
-Build 704 cross base highway.
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Old September 11th, 2007, 05:59 AM   #19
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ewww... thats a ton of extra lanes... doubling the size of 405?
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Old September 11th, 2007, 06:23 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kub86 View Post
-Continue 167 to Tacoma from Puyallup.
-Build 704 cross base highway.
Those two *are* on the list.
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