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The problem is that decent transportation solutions would be comprehensive and include both roads and transit in a mix that most efficiently moved people along transit corridors. An integrated solution funded by an integrated ballot issue would make sense.

The problem with the RTID and ST linkage is that the solutions are separate but the funding is being integrated in order to ensure passage of both. It's a classic political compromise, and one that I'd rather have elected officials make instead of the public. That, alas, would expose elected officials to accountability, and no one wants that.

Posted by Cascadian | December 6, 2006 1:42 PM

So if they "decouple" and ST #2 fails, do the ST #1 taxes go down?

Posted by gidoc | December 6, 2006 1:42 PM

Is there any conceivable way the People’s Waterfront Coalition Plan for a surface boulevard plus transit is achievable *unless* there is a combined RTID/Sound Transit package?

The PWC has never adequately explained what exactly the “transit” component of their plan is, how it will work, and *especially* how it will be paid for.

This is your chance. Don’t kick this gift horse in the mouth. Co-opt it, exploit it. Flush it out, add a price tag and specifics to the vague feel-good platitudes. If you make it part of a regional package, get Ed Murray on board, you might have a chance, even against Olympia.

Posted by some troll | December 6, 2006 2:00 PM

Gidoc--no to both. ST 2 polls above RTID with likely voters and is the more likely to pass. And ST 1 taxes are totally separate from ST 2.

Some Troll--you hit the nail on the head with your questions. Indeed, if the surface option is the choice, there is no money for EITHER the surface improvements or the unspecified transit component. This is faith-based transportation planning, nothing more.

There is no surface+transit plan in any meaningful way.

Posted by i prefer a reality-based commute | December 6, 2006 2:45 PM

Well, these are interesting times we live in when the regional political establishment is afraid that transit is more popular than roads. You really have to wonder about these guys, though, when they're so lacking in confidence for the roads package that they can't even put their faith in a vote that they've already distorted and skewed to favor the RTID. The way things are jiggered and gerrymandered now, RTID is going to get a lot more votes than it would have otherwise -- from people who are only voting for RTID for the sake of Sound Transit.

I can only guess their fear is that Sound Transit 2 is going to top 50%, but RTID is going to come up short. So it's going to become overwhelmingly apparent that regional voters want more transit more than more roads, and there's going to be political pressure to let ST2 stand on its own in 2008, a presidential election year.

I just hope that the Ed Murrays and the Ken Jacobsens out there have enough power -- and nerve -- to stop this.

Posted by cressona | December 6, 2006 3:15 PM

The response above about the ST1 taxes is flat wrong.

If ST2 is not approved, Sound Transit MUST roll back the current tax rates. ST’s website says that is what it will do:

“System expansion or tax rollback - Any second phase capital program which continues local taxes for financing will require voter approved within the RTA District. If voters decide not to extend the system, the RTA will roll back the tax rate to a level sufficient to pay off the outstanding bonds and operate and maintain the investments made as part of Sound Move.”
Sound Move > Paying for the System > Financial Policies

I agree with Josh that linking the two measures in an “up or down” way is wrong.

The poll seems slanted too. “Transit” means different things to different people. I’m pretty sure the numbers would be a lot lower if instead of “transit,” the respondents were asked if Sound Transit should get billions more to extend its light rail line.

Posted by Brian Hutchinson | December 6, 2006 3:19 PM

"Scholes says that polling shows voters want both roads and transit and want them coordinated." This is so incredibly disingenuous.

What we have now already coordinates roads and transit. That was precisely Gregoire's justification for linking the ST2 and RTID votes. And if anyone doesn't think that's being accomplished, they should see how the RTID negotiations are being affected. The environmentalists have been forced to the RTID table to help craft a package that is acceptable to them; they can no longer say, "To hell with RTID."

Mr. Scholes, so how is the current arrangement failing to provide coordination? Or perhaps you could just 'fess up and say what your real motivation is.

Posted by cressona | December 6, 2006 3:25 PM

Something struck me funny: "RTID attorneys are working with KC attorneys to make RTID and Sound Transit a single ballot initiative." King County attorneys. Does this mean Ron Sims is behind this? The county council?

Also, I hate to say, the fact that the Democrats will have solid majorities in the state legislature gives me no comfort that this proposal will be defeated. I've learned the hard way that "Washington Democrat = transit supporter" is not a smart assumption to make.

Posted by cressona | December 6, 2006 3:34 PM

Actually environmentalists are not supporting RTID. Some environmental groups are suing over the RTID plan (specifically, the McChord cross-base highway). There’s an article about the lawsuit notice here:

Posted by shoofly | December 6, 2006 3:40 PM

Shoofly: Actually environmentalists are not supporting RTID.

Actually, some environmentalists are working to influence the RTID package so that it's something they can support. That's precisely why Jessyn Schor, executive director of Transportation Choices Coalition, is on this transportation committee of Gary Locke's that was formed this year.

That said, I can only hope the powers-that-be are not crazy enough to put that cross-base highway in the roads package.

Posted by cressona | December 6, 2006 3:58 PM

Cressona - "RTID attorneys are working with KC attorneys to make RTID and Sound Transit a single ballot initiative." King County attorneys. Does this mean Ron Sims is behind this? The county council?

King County attorneys report to a separately elected official - King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng.

Posted by Lionel Hutz | December 6, 2006 4:10 PM

Thanks, Lionel Hutz.

Posted by cressona | December 6, 2006 4:12 PM

Scholes just sent me some polling that supports his case:

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.

Posted by Josh Feit | December 6, 2006 4:27 PM

Why should we trust the RTID? I say decouple.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 6, 2006 5:53 PM

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