Bad Transportation News, Part 2
State Sen. Bill Finkbeiner’s proposal to link a planned Sound Transit ballot measure extending light rail and the roads-heavy Regional Transportation Investment District (if either failed, both would fail) is included in the regional-transportation compromise reached in the state legislature yesterday. The “common-ballot” measure, which also prohibits a Sound Transit-RTID vote in 2006, is Finkbeiner’s attempt to force roads proponents (who generally support RTID) to vote for light rail, and to force transit backers (who generally support Sound Transit) to vote for RTID. However, FutureWise director Aaron Ostrom says the whole issue may be irrelevant anyway, because Finkbeiner’s provision would sunset after December 1, 2007, and Ostrom doubts any major tax initiatives will go to the ballot in a low-turnout, off-year election.
Transit proponents have opposed RTID in the past because it couples RTID and Sound Transit, does not allow RTID to pay for transit operations except for “construction mitigation,” and, until yesterday, relied heavily on regressive sales tax. Environmental groups like FutureWise, the Transportation Choices Coalition, Washington Conservation Voters and the Washington Environmental Council now support it.