News Transit + Roads = Single Subject?
posted by December 6 at 13:11 PMon
Last year, the State legislature linked RTID and Sound Transit. Voters have to approve both Sound Transit’s $9.5 billion Phase II plan (to go further north, further south, and to the eastside) and approve RTID’s $7.4 billion roads plan (expect that price tag to skyrocket when WashDOT releases the construction inflation adjusted numbers later this month) for either plan to go forward.
I think they should be de-coupled, so that voters can make a clean policy decision on transit and roads. Linking them seems a bit like last year’s GOP ploy at the federal level to link an estate tax repeal with a minimum wage increase, rather than having stand-alone votes.
Well, things are actually moving in the opposite direction: Jon Scholes, chief of staff for KC Council Member Julia Patterson, just told me that RTID attorneys are working with KC attorneys to make RTID and Sound Transit a single ballot initiative.
I’ve got a call in to Sound Transit to see how they feel about this. To me it seems like blackmailing transit voters into supporting massive roads expansion. Again, I think they should be completely separate questions.
Scholes says that polling shows voters want both roads and transit and want them coordinated. However, I’ve seen other recent polling that showed voters are more interested in funding transit than they are in funding roads or in funding the balanced approach that Scholes hyped.
Sound Transit Poll taken within the RTA district boundary, on October 14-17, by Evans-McDonough, sample-size 800, margin of error + or - 3.5 points. Question # 26: “Now I’d like to ask you about future transportation spending in Puget Sound. Please tell me which comes closest to your view.
Should invest more in roads 24%
Balanced investments in roads and transit 28%
Should invest more in transit 40%
More than one 1%
None of the above 3%
Scholes just sent me some polling to back up his POV:
Evans McDonough WSDOT survey from October 2006. Sample size across three counties equaled 1600. Largest survey on transportation in the last 5 years.
Q17 Some people have said that we need a comprehensive and integrated transportation package that tackles current traffic and transit problems, balances investments in roads and transit, and anticipates the future needs of the region. In general, would you support or oppose a transportation package like this?
78% support overall in King County.
Findings (from Evans McDonough)
The concept of a comprehensive and balanced Roads and Transit package receives very strong support overall and within subregions of Puget Sound. Though support drops when voters hear the specific taxing mechanism, it rebounds once they hear the average household cost. The challenge, then, is linking the benefits of the package with this cost. There are many goals for the package that get a strong majority of voters to say they would be more likely to support the package after hearing them; the top four are that it makes needed safety improvements that it makes it easier to get around our area that it gives people options to get out of congestion that it integrates road and transit improvements to create a transportation system that works together. The strength of the package is derived from the variety within it; voters in different areas are attracted to the priorities that meet the needs of their area:
In North King, the top three items are all Light Rail
In East King, #1 is SR-520, #2 is Light Rail, and #3 is I-405
In South King, #1 is SR-167, #2 is I-405, and #3 is Light Rail
In Snohomish, #1 is safety on SR-2, #2 is widening I-5 and SR-2, and #3 is I-5 and SR-2
improvements in downtown Everett.
Sound Transit spokesperson Ric Ilgenfritz just called back to give me Sound Transit’s position on combining RTID and light rail expansion into one ballot initiative. Ilgenfritz said: “Since we’re stuck in this marriage of convenience our board has asked us to enhance our chances of success, and [simplifying two measures into one] is one way to do that.”