City Transportation Standards
The smart smart-growth troops over at Transportation Choices Coalition have come up with a list of four musts that the Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) package must meet to get TCC’s stamp of approval. You’ll remember that when Seattle’s environmental/transit groups didn’t get behind the R-51 gas tax for transportation projects in 2002 (they felt it was too roads-heavy), the package went down. Three years later, the same gang supported the fight to save the legislature’s 9-cent gas tax for transportation projects (less road project-heavy), and helped defeat the attempt (I-912) to repeal it.
Obviously, transpo taxes need the a-okay from Seattle’s green/transit community.
The RTID list of projects, which includes things like replacing 520, is currently at about $7.5 billion, although rumor is it might get up to $12 billion when new cost estimates come out. It’s on the ballot with Sound Transit phase two ($3-$6 billion?): Both have to pass for either one to pass.
Here are the four standards TCC says RTID and/or Sound Transit must meet to get TCC’s a-okay.
1) Mitigation. Any investment in roads must be coupled with a “meaningful investment” in transit in the same corridor. I asked TCC’s Rob Johnson to define “meaningful” and he said there’s no set percentage of dollars across the board, but he offered an example of what TCC might fight for: “20% of 520 traffic is transit, so maybe 20 percent of the money in RTID that goes to 520 should be dedicated to transit there.”
2) Prioritize fixes over new projects. As the RTID board starts winnowing down its projects to cut costs, TCC says roads projects have to go to the bottom of the list while repairs and maintenance must go to the top of the list.
3) As to Sound Transit: TCC says they will not tolerate any cuts to Phase Two. It must include the run to Northgate and Federal Way. It must include light rail across I-90. And it must include the First Hill trolley that replaced the station there. Johnson says he’s worried that the RTID/ST campaign—when trying to make their package more appealing to voters—may get pressure from the RTID wing to slash light rail costs.
4) All roads (“new capacity”) projects in the RTID must either be toll lanes, HOV lanes, or HOT lanes. HOT lanes are when single passenger cars can pay to drive in an HOV lane.
TCC says its support is contingent on these four criteria.
Transit purists may not be crazy about this list—not tough enough, too forgiving on road expansion—but I imagine the roads stalwarts will absolutely hate it.