If it wasn't for the single-member veto, this could be a good idea. I think it would be better to simply add elected positions to the Sound Transit board, along with taxation/tolling authority, and make it the final and sole decision-maker on all metro-area transit.
In its current form, this just undercuts Sound Transit right as that agency has gotten its act together. I want more transit much faster than Sound Transit is going to deliver it, but gutting Sound Transit and creating a new agency with no institutional memory or public credibility would delay transit, not accelerate it.
Light rail construction is well under way. We'll soon have light rail running to SeaTac – just like the voters were promised. None of the taxes have been raised, plus, the agency didn’t need as much bonding as originally estimated. Projects for the most part are coming in on time and under budget. Sound Transit’s professionals now are planning for coordinating roads + rails. The legislature should not remove our local control from the elected leaders on the agency’s board. ST2 will let us push through to the U. We can build on success with ST2!
Josh writes: "Murray is frustrated, for example, with the dunderheaded plans for SR520, which don’t coordinate with light rail."
Josh, I haven't heard quite this criticism of the 520 planning. Can you elaborate? I know "they" have talked about making the new 520 rail-extensible or compatible but only for some conversion in the undetermined future.
This feels a bit like _No Child Left Behind_: A decent enough idea with serious flaws in implementation.
As Murray rightly pointed out, it is asinine to plan transit and road projects separately -- guarantying no potential for cost-savings or reasoned planning. Likewise, the spending and funding rules are totally archaic. Even with these positive aspects, the veto provision seems too powerful a negative, capable of undoing any potential good from this bill...
Holding up the UW & Northgate light rail extension for decades - while waiting for more wrangling over 520 - is not a "pro-transit" position.
Neither is increasing ST's station costs for an in-line station. So the limber college students will have to walk 3 minutes to the station from Husky Stadium. Poor kids.
Feit believes Murray is "pro-transit" because Murray told him he is. Dig in a little deeper, Josh, and you'll find he's NOT a light rail enthusiast, and he is NOT excited about extending light rail to the 'burbs, which need it the most for enviro and land use reasons.
You need political leadership to get this heavy lifting done. Murray and the part-time legislature exhibit the exact opposite time and time again - whether it be forging a deal with Finkbeiner last session to trade governance for 405/520 - or whether it be trying to slowly kill off an agency and a project because of a pet project associated with a pet peeve.
Expanding light rail is the underlying issue here, and the anti-rail sharks are definitely circling around Murray so they can go in for the kill. www.bettertransport.info/pitf
Everybody has their own disperate grudge against ST and ST's projects. This is their change to take all those random complaints and use them to stick it to "the man."
Sacrificing light rail in the process just isn't that big a deal for them.
RTID is dead, and so is Murray's idea.
Murray's "we need multi modal planning" bull shit is nothing more than sour grapes.
He is mad that light rail isn't coming on the bridge through his district and instead will be built on I-90 to Overlake.
Multi modal planning occurs all the time in this region. Murray just doesn't like the results for his district. Not enough pet projects for him.
And if he is so interested in having WSDOT conduct better planning on their roads, well why not make WSDOT conduct better planning on their roads?? He is a state senator after all. He used to be the House Transportation Committee Chair.
His two gas tax increases included close to 200 different projects in King County alone. Why didn't he fund the full replacement of the 520 bridge and put some rail on it?
Even assuming ST could have been killed off five years ago, we are way past even talking about that at this point.
This bill is not going to kill ST – the projects are almost complete.
A few BRT- and car-worshipping deadenders still are kicking around (John Niles! Peter Sherwin!), but they are a micro-minority. Expansion of the system will be relatively inexpensive, popular, and an inevitable part of future transportation system infrastructure build-outs.
The reason the unanimity requirement is more of a theoretical than practical problem is because it cuts both ways. There is no way the district reps from Seattle would vote for a sprawl causing roads package at the expense of transit. This will force compromise.
It's all about Hegel: thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
Will it force compromise, or will it force gridlock (theoretical gridlock in Congress, not the real thing on the roads)?
I don't see Snohomish County reps being shy at all about killing transit. The old pork-barrel legislative model has worked in the past -- I'll vote for yours if you'll vote for mine -- but will it continue? Government seems increasingly paralyzed. Not surprising, I guess, as the dollar figures get bigger and the issues more fixed and contentious.
The question isn't about Sound Transit now; it's about expanding it. Transit is a very bitterly divisive issue in Snohomish now, and I'm not sure the pros outnumber the antis. If we can't get trains in Northgate and Bellevue because of one property-rights neanderthal in Arlington, that's going to suck. For everybody; they won't get the roads they so desperately want (a lattice of four-lane freeways all across the county; it's coming, watch) and we won't get our trains, OR our bridge, or our (ahem) whatevercomesaftertheviaduct.
So maybe legislative gridlock is the only block we can put up in the way of total losangelization. Ugh.
The 520 plans are just fine. The Pacific St option can get BRT right to the Husky Stadium station. As long as the new bridge is built strong enough to take LRT, it is inevitable it will replace it someday.
Issaquah-Bellevue via I-90 along with UW-Bellvue via 520 are up for study in ST2. Combining those two segments into a Issaquah-Ballard line would make a lot of sense in ST3. Should be big ridership in replacing the 44, would look good to the FTA.
Why do you think transit is such a divisive issue for Snohomish? Who are the cons?
"Will it force compromise, or will it force gridlock (theoretical gridlock in Congress, not the real thing on the roads)?"
This would be a transportation ONLY funding, planning and oversight board. Odds are that voters would work hard to make sure no hardliners are elected. No one who is a property rights reactionary wacko from Arlington likely would be elected. The voters in Sno. county do want roads money, and they will know that only by electing someone who can compromise and back balanced regionwide plans will their needs be met. Of course someone could go really sideways once elected. But because transportation is the ONLY thing this board would be doing, the scrutiny - and resulting accountability - would be much, much greater than what we have now.
Maybe there could be streamlined recall provisions, by district, if someone is being a real problem for their district?
Considering the present systems don't seem to be meshing very well, I'd be in favor of an overhaul just to try out another system. Why stick with something which creates such divisiveness? Sometimes the "Devil You Don't Know" can be better than the "Devil You Know."
We're in a somewhat chaotic realm these days. Chaos creates some interesting opportunities. I suggest we try some of them. Murray's being one.
If we could get a central agency that would be able to weigh the advantages of one project next to another, I think that would be a good thing. Although I have never supported a BRT proposal, notwithstanding whatever name the ST pumper is using on this board stated, but if a solid argument was made for using that technology over monorail or light rail or water taxis or... shouldn't that be the choice?
The new surface study, some want in Seattle, is to include bus routes - I think the study should look at light rail, monorail, skytrain etc. for the west side of the city as well.
The real costs of systems should be public information easily accessed and should use the same methodology for all projects.
I don't get the unanimous requirement but I do see the value in coordination and accountability.
Is there a blog in roads territory where they are afraid that Seattle transit nuts will veto all road projects :)
Having just read the actual bill, I'm more positive on the theoretical merits:
-The board would be authorized and encouraged to implement congestion pricing and other demand management.
-Has the power to absorb the Puget Sound Regional Council and undertake its land use responsibilities, if the governor & the cities agree.
-Absorbs Sound Transit. Will submit a report to the legislature about the wisdom of further integrating local transit agencies.
-However, the new RTC will be stuck with the RTID project list, assuming it is approved. However, there seems to be no similar requirement for the ST2 projects.
This is a more constructive discussion than the last couple on the issue.
I agree that the single-member veto is one of the most problematic aspects of the bill. This will only produce a Hegelian outcome that's not so ideal. In other words we'll get a big roads and transit package (as with the current forced marriage between RTID and ST), followed by voter rejection because the package is too big and road heavy for pro-tax voters, followed by the same cycle repeated again.
A supermajority requirement, on the other hand, would allow the majority of the board to marginalize the pro-road extremists while still guaranteeing a high degree of consensus and geographical breadth in the list of project benefits.
Get rid of the absolute consensus requirement, require a rigorous carbon emission analysis of each project, beef up the language re: mobility equals moving people and goods (not cars) and, maybe shrink the taxing boundaries to not only exclude Kitsap and Gig Harbor peninsula, but other areas outside the existing Sound Transit jurisdicion. Do all these things and you have a pretty good bill that probably would be significantly better than the status quo.
"In other words we'll get a big roads and transit package (as with the current forced marriage between RTID and ST), followed by voter rejection because the package is too big and road heavy for pro-tax voters, followed by the same cycle repeated again."
Not if the commissioners are sensible. You are assuming they would try to put a bloated package before voters, like ST and RTID are doing.
A prioritized, smaller package than ST2/RTID - but balanced between roads and transit - likely would pass. It is because those two autonomous agencies (RTID and ST) decided to put out their unprioritized "we want it all now" measures that the November package will be way too bloated.
BREAKING NEWS: Just got word that Ed Murray sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership, transportation committee chairs in both houses, and the Governor arguing that it's time to pull the plug on the joint ST2/RTID ballot planned for November.
He argues that many of the projects on the list are not ready to go before voters including SR 520 and ST crossing of I-90. Therefore, he believes that ST should be able to go out by itself to voters in November, but without the I-90 crossing.
He then calls for a combined roads and transit package at a future date, but under the auspices of a new RTC that would be in operation by the end of the year. I should have an electronic copy of the letter to post soon.
Golob, the cons in Snohomish are in the northern and eastern part of the county -- basically everybody from Marysville on up, and everybody strung along Highway 9: north and east of Everett. They have a point, in that the only commuting anybody up there gives a damn about is to and from the Boeing plant, which isn't on ST's short or long lists; there will never be adequate transit there. And the worse congestion gets on 9 -- they're widening it now -- the more they want more road, NOT transit. You could count the people in Marysville and Arlington who want more light rail, monorail, BRT, mag-lev trains, you name it, on one hand. What they DO want is bigger, better E-W links between I-5 and points east, and they want a hundred more lanes of I-5 to "solve" the new traffic crisis between Quilceda (where the Tulalip Casino, Wal-Mart, Home Despot, etc. etc.) and Smokey Point (new Target on the east side, established but ballooning strip mall city on the west). Nobody but nobody gives a shit about transit, except downtown Seattle commuters, who make up a tiny fraction of the population. This is the new world.
The interesting thing that's happening in Kitsap and Mason Counties is the new Narrows bridge, which is already causing a boom in sprawl construction over there that's just starting to gather steam. That bridge is the stupidest thing you can imagine; it's GUARANTEED to create sprawl around Gig Harbor and up and down the Key Peninsula and points beyond, which will then create demand for more development south of Tacoma along I-5. Some people will probably be commuting to the I-5 corridor from as far as Port Orchard, Bremerton the LONG way around (not ferry) or even Shelton.
That's the problem I have with these "regional solutions" I keep hearing about; regional is the right approach, but to too many people regional still means "commuting in and out of downtown". The real region is HUGE, and it's running away from us. Most people never come anywhere near the city limits, let alone downtown.
I'm worried about delaying the I-90 crossing and what that means for potential sucess of an ST tax measure without benefits to promise to Eastside voters.
But, Murray is right about the RTID proposal. Design is not settled on SR 520 and, as he also notes in the letter, the combined package is too heavily bloated with unpopular tax increases (.6% sales tax and .8% motor vehicle excise tax) to likely pass muster with voters when so many contentious projects remain on the list.
@10, @18 - as I said, RTID is dead.
"The 520 plans are just fine. The Pacific St option can get BRT right to the Husky Stadium station. As long as the new bridge is built strong enough to take LRT, it is inevitable it will replace it someday."
Agree, the PCI version is a fine one, and I sat in on some of the secret meetings to make sure it was good.
Bill, you mean the same "unpopular taxes" that Ed Murrary would have this new government levy? He gives the new commission a full one percent sales tax authority. It could all be spent on roads. How does that sit with you?
ted: Murray provides a broad range of tax and pricing options in the bill. There are some that should be added, like a regional gas tax. Yes, they all could, in theory, be spent on roads. But, that's where voter accountability comes in. Puget Sound voters want transit. They see that we're way behind in building up our rail infrastructure; they're skeptical about roads solving congestion. Voters get to force accountability at two stages: (1) election of board members; (2) approval or rejection of the board's proposal. RTID is unraveling 7 months before the election because the potential campaign backers know this big bloated, road heavy package can't pass muster with the very voters who are willing to tax themselves for transportation.
My understanding is the 520 plans are at least a decade away from being able to actually break ground. Am I wrong? Who knows what the tax and voter situation will look like then.
In the meantime, regional voters, who outnumber Seattle residents at least five to one, are going to be getting more and more fed up paying taxes for improvements that benefit Seattle -- even if that's not the case, it's the perception (always has been, always will be).
What frustrates me is that ST is doing so little to counter that perception. Light rail is necessary and great, but ultimately the plan is focused on moving people in and out of central seattle.
Here is the kickass 405 BRT plan, which is buried deep in the I-405 master plan from WSDOT. ST has been building all the access ramps and whatnot to implement it, but I see nothing from them about when the actual service will start. I doubt most suburban voters know anything about it.
"Murray believes this new transportation agency would bring new revenue streams to transit planning."
Sure - in like 5-6 years.
This new (unfunded) entity he wants to create will:
First need to have its districts created by the three county councils - could happen next year.
Then commission members would run in '08 or '09
Then in '09 or '10 they would craft a plan (mind you, without a a paycheck for themselves, let alone a desk or any staff)
Then that plan would go to the voters, maybe in '11 or '12, when the commission would get its first funding.
Then, possibly in '12 or '13, Bill Laborde can have all the money he wants for carbon assessments and transit!
Nice to see how bright the bulbs are shining down in Olympia these days.
"There are some that should be added, like a regional gas tax. "
Idealism is a good thing, Bill Laborde. Extreme idealism, however, leads to naivite.
Not only that - you're supposed to be the pro-transit guy. Why is it that the only "popular" tax you can come up with can only be used for roads?
And why do you keep contradicting yourself?
Buzz: Only the state gas is restricted to roads under the state constitution. A regional gas tax could be enacted without that restriction.
BILL LABORDE Wrote:
"Buzz: Only the state gas is restricted to roads under the state constitution. A regional gas tax could be enacted without that restriction."
It might be better to opt for a mileage
tax (call it a "usage" tax, if you will) as opposed to a gas tax. I suspect as cars increase in their fuel mileage and alternative energy vehicles become the norm, reliance on the current fuels as a commodity to tax may become problematic.
You said voters across the Puget Sound support transit. Catch the last two ferry measures in Kitsap County? They both failed. The most recent was in February.
The RTID list isn't perfect in my mind, but I look at the KC projects and see a lot to like. Lots of HOV and freight improvements. The Pierce and Snohomish lists give those areas what they want. Wouldn't be my choice but, I also like that they may help fund light rail over the county lines.
What is your evidence that this is all falling apart?
Catch Aubrey Davis' op ed today in support of the road and transit measure in the Times? That old radical road zealot. Right Bill.
Bill, is John Stanton paying you too like he is Ed? Just curious. I mean the guy has got a billion dollars right.
Bill how do you have time to save the environment with all the time you spend defending Ed Murray and his broken bill?
You are on every blog defending him before the ink is even dry on the original post.
Currious to see the letter you mentioned. Now this is the same Ed Murray who last year said we should have an integrated roads and transit measure. Now he doesn't think so.
There are less twists and turns on my sister's favorite soap opera than in the head of Ed Murray. What's Ed got on next year's transportation agenda? Jetson spaceships for everyone!!
"reliance on the current fuels as a commodity to tax may become problematic. "
--- Jensen Interseptor
Really, ya think so Jensen? That occured about ten years ago. Go intersept some brains my friend.
It occured ten years ago, yet Ed Murray decided to use this same failed funding source for the 2003 and 2005 transportation packages. That 5 cents that was raised in 2003 is worth about 4 now thanks to inflation. I think we should charge people for the roads they use. Why doesn't that crusader for the environment Ed Murray?
"Really, ya think so Jensen? That occured about ten years ago. Go intersept some brains my friend."
Interesting comment, William. Since you seem to exhibit some knowledge about the topic, why don't you do us all a favor and forecast what our net return on the gas tax will be during the next 10 years based on current levy and planned increases coupled with the vehicle population and its predicted future fuel usage.
Personally, I'd be interested in a comparison to what you say occured ten years ago.
Come back and report to us Willy after you complete your report.
ted: I was talking about the mass of Puget Sound voters in the three central Puget Sound counties. Kitsap's a different animal altoghether. No one is seriously talking about including them in any regional tax proposal anytime soon.
Aubrey's great. For him, I think, the whole combined package is worth it to ensure funding for ST2 and SR 520. Living on Mercer Island, I'm sure he's also worried about all the rest of the old-timers there who want to use every opportunity they can to oppose light rail on I-90 (this does give me some pause in opposing the combined measure).
I disagree with Aubrey in this case because I just don't see how you can talk about building so many new SOV lane miles in an era when we're supposed to be cutting co2 emissions. We, of course, should invest in road projects to replace crumbling infrastructure and we should make some additional, strategic road investments for freight mobility and to clear up choke points. So, I support replacing 520, the SR 167 extension (although in their desperation to fund SR 162 and Cross-base, RTID gets that project all wrong), as well as fixing up the 167/405 interchange and improving collector/distributor lanes, ramp metering all those really cost-effective investments that help traffic flow better without inducing much more of it.
And, for these reasons, I oppose the degree of 405 expansion proposed by RTID, I have big problems with the SR 509 extension and I hate 162 expansion and cross-base highway. Honestly, I don't know enough about the Snohomish projects to have a strong opinion yet.
Evidence for RTID falling apart: the November polling conducted by the potential campaign funders was, at best, marginal - very reminiscent of R-51 back in 2002 (and the RTID package only got bigger after the polling was conducted). As pointed out in Murray's letter, the package has all kinds of vulnerabilities - SR 520 design not yet resolved, strong opposition to Cross-base in Pierce County, at least a couple of the state's big environmental groups poised to oppose, and the fact that the combined tax burden is BIG, really BIG. And, you can even see the anxiety in the faces of some of RTID's biggest proponents these days.
BTW, I've only been on the opposite sides of campaigns to which Stanton has contributed. Trust me, I'm not on his payroll. Nor is Ed Murray. One political contribution of a few hundred bucks won't buy any politician these, especially not Ed.
@19 Thanks Fnarf.
I have to agree with much of your critique here: we should be thinking of the region overall.
I've really come to believe that something like Metra or MARC would do really well here, particularly for the Everett-Seattle-Tacoma urban corridor -- far more than the patchwork of lightrail lines planned. So many people forget that there wouldn't be cities here without the UP and BNSF rail lines.
Even with all the problems, I thought the Seattle-only funding of the Monorail was a good idea precisely because it diffuses some of the frustration around the state.
Scr.w the rest of the state.
I believe Ed is in alliance with Stanton to kill rail on I-90 in order to pry money away form ST for building a six-lane 520 -- between I-5 and I-405 with enough amenities to placate the people of Montlake and Laurelhurst. That is the common theme between the now-abandoned version of 5803 and his "new" proposal.
He's mad about RTID not plowing all the Viaduct money into 520, he's mad that ST didn't add a light rail station near his house on north capitol hill, and he's still mad about the replacement of the First Hill light rail station with a streetcar. He thinks his district is screwed by ST because there are only a few stations, rather than cluing in to the fact that in ST2 there will be over 40 light rail stations to which his constituents can travel all over the darn region. As a result, he is behaving selfishly. If you don't believe it, look at his proposals and follow both the money and who gets to decide how to use it.
Follow. The. Money.
Rail on I-90 creates a one-seat ride on along a high speed, grade-seperated corridor stretching 30 miles from Redmond to Lynnwood via downtown and UW. It is the single most useful transportation investment that can be made to connect the region's largest population and employment centers. And he doesn't care.
If he thinks his contraption can produce results faster, ask him to show you the money. Show. You. The. Money. It simply doesn't add up.
Bill, did you support the the 2003 and the 2005 gas tax packages? They had $1.5 billion for 405. More than RTID. Murray put those plans together.
I think 405 should be managed. The RTID investments as I understand them will make this possible. We of course would need the state to allow those lanes to be managed. RTID can't do that. So we get back to your buddy Ed Murray. Why hasn't he proposed pricing any of the major road investments he proposed in 2003 and 2005?
I live in Seattle and see a lot of great RTID projects in my neck of the woods. These are all the projects that our global warming fighting mayor wants. Mercer Street improvements, lander overpass, new Spokane Street Viaduct that includes transit lanes.
It isn't rocket science here. You have a static tax (5 cent increase on a gallon of gas, 9.5 cent increase on a gallon of gas) and a tax that doesn't track entirely with ones use of the system. You can drive a civic 90 miles a day and pay less than someone driving a caddy 40 miles a day. You are not covering your costs for your use of the system.
This is a goofy way for paying for our roads. We should have a sales tax at least on gas or charge per mile. But people like Murrary just keep relying on the gas tax.
It is not sustainable.
Finally some leadership. Go Sen. Murray.
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