this really should make environmental leaning voters think twice about blindly voting for any and all rapid transit ballots without looking at the fine print before hand.
Unless the voters are simply moved by the very promise of rapid transit being built in this rapid transit poor region... too bad roads and rapid transit have to exist on the same ballot (people will need to vote in the BAD if they want to vote in the GOOD... its a question then of if the BAD outweighs the GOOD) if it even has a prayer of being accepted by the WA State electorate.
You're just flat full of shit, Josh. We need both of these packages, and I'be urging everybody I know to vote for both of them.
@2 - why exactly do we need both of them?
Josh, you should know by now that math, let alone finance, is hardly your strong suit. it pains me to see you attempting these contortions.
I'm not "full of shit," Ivan. We disagree, though.
I think your math is wrong in regards to paying back your (non-interest) loan to Dan, Josh.
Your payments are a steady $100 a month without adjustment for inflation. In the end you still pay Dan $1000. But $1000 in 2017 will not buy the same amount of stuff that he could today (2007).
But I'm not the economist that you are so I could be wrong.
Check it now. I changed the equation. I think it makes sense this time. Head hurts.
Does the proposed roads money fund paving brand new roads over non-road land right now? Or does it maintain our existing road infrastructure?
And if it indeed will mostly maintain existing roads, then how does that increase the carbon footprint?
Isn't it apples and oranges, Josh? the $3B/$11B was being levied on Seattle only. the $6.7B/$14B is being levied on a three-county region.
I'm curious to see what the final "roads" list will contain. There seems to be talk about prioritizing congestion tolls and HOV/transit lanes, which would be easier to stomach. I keep reading about back-door negotiating to remove the Cross-Base Freeway in Pierce County, which seems to be the big poison pill for environmentalists.
Though if that happens, ST Chair John Ladenburg says he'll resign and campaign AGAINST Roads & Transit. What will that mean???
I think you've got the math exactly backwards. If you borrow $1000 from Dan and pay it back at $100 per year with no interest, you get a great deal, as the $100 is worth less and less each year. In other words, you get $1000 now, and you pay the equivalent of far *less* than $1000 in inflation adjusted dollars.
In other words, the payments still are *nominally* $1000, but come to less than $1000 in real dollars.
The monorail thing was about the exorbitant interest charges that were required because they decided to go with a 40 year bond and a relatively high interest rate. In a 40 year bond, you end up spending far more in interest than you end up borrowing in the first place, which is how $3B became $11B.
Sing it, sister!
What if we woke up in 10 years and every car on the market was a hybrid that got 100 MPG?
That's not exactly a rhetorical question. There seems to be a convergence of technology and fuel prices that would make it possible. All those sprawl-supporting roads would get a bit harder for the Sierra Club, etc. to oppose under the current logic. The new logic (your cheaper new house in the exurbs hurts salmon runs! uh...save forests! Density and trains will make us more sophisticated 'n "world-class!") gets a little more removed from an observed cause-effect chain and possibly even more "elitist."
Honestly, I think that if you want rail, you vote for this thing now, no matter what roads get attached to it.
If we're going to follow Josh's line of reasoning, we should also ask: of that $6.7 billion in road projects, how much of the work truly is harmful, from an environmental standpoint? That is, how much of the work really is creating general-purpose, capacity-expanding freeway lanes? Certainly not all of it. There's some real momentum toward the 520-replacement portion of that expenditure being "good" road capacity -- transit lanes plus tolled general-purpose lanes.
Let's suppose, for argument's sake, that a fair portion of that $6.7 is not so evil. Then we really have to ask the question, what ratio of good projects to bad projects is acceptable? 75% good? 80% good? Or will we insist on nothing short of 100%?
Well, a rhetorical question deserves a rhetorical answer. I'm just glad there weren't any Josh Feit types around when New York City was building its subway system using cheap, exploited labor. Because believe me, in the real world, there's always something to go all Hamlet over.
Huge houses in the exurbs will still be a problem even if everybody accesses them in hybrid cars, JW. Sprawl in and of itself isn't impact-free. Destroying rural farmland, forests, watersheds, etc. affects us all. It's not just about the cars (and building hybrids takes a huge amount of energy too, btw).
It's also a matter of balancing quality of life issues. Most people certainly don't want to be crammed in high-rise apartment buildings, but they also don't want to sit in traffic all day. Over the long term, building more roads does nothing to alleviate traffic. If it did, Los Angeles would have the least traffic in the country.
The "entire point" of light rail is NOT to force everyone onto mass transit. The "point" of light rail is to provide people with an ALTERNATIVE that is not stuck in traffic. If people choose to drive, that's bad for the environment and for the security of the United States, but it doesn't affect the existence of that choice.
From a purely tactical standpoint, the more rail there is, the more people will want it. The more people that experience riding rail transit, the sooner we'll have a comprehensive system. I would vote for this measure even if it included a provision for clubbing baby seals twice a year.
It's simply unrealistic to assume that everyone has a reasonable transit alternative. There's no good way to get from the SR167 area to, say, Eastgate via transit. Do we say, "screw you, just vote for my package?" Or do we fix the obvious chokepoint to improve their lives a bit?
It seems like most of the RTID projects are improvements to existing roads, except for the infamous cross-base highway. If I were a Spanaway resident that commuted to Ft. Lewis, I would resent a bunch of Capitol Hill fundamentalists trying to tell me what roads I need in *my* neighborhood. I'd be resentful enough to the torpedo the package altogether.
I'm not advocating the CBH, and advocating "live and let live."
I will vote for the combined package and reject any tactic that results in ANY delay in the delivery of rail transit to the region.
Agreeing with Erica @15. A hybrid that gets 100 MPG vs. a regular car that gets 40 MPG is a wash if the hybrid driver has to drive 2.5 times the distance because they live in a sprawling exurb. We need to be moving towards less-polluting automobiles, but let's be wary of less-polluting automobiles being offered as a panacea.
If we could produce a zero-emission motor vehicle, it would be that much more expensive to produce. So there would be a substantial hidden tax on all car owners. And it still would do nothing to address traffic congestion or, as Erica points out, the fundamental problems with sprawl.
Building roads does not sabotage anything, Josh Feit.
People are still going to drive no matter how much rail you build, no matter how high gas prices get. You may as well improve the road infrastructure and try to move vehicles along a bit faster.
Traffic's going to increase by 50% in the next decade, and very few of those newcomers are on the transit bandwagon, nor do they have any intention of getting on, short of you, Erica and Cary Moon forcing people onto public transit at gunpoint. And no, that's not an invitation to invest in firearms.
Well, no shit, ECB.
But my question is, and was, how are you going to make a compelling anti-sprawl argument that isn't an elitist scold? Tailpipe emissions = death works. Remove, or seriously lower those emissions and I think it'll be time to give the think tank a call.
ECB - are you indicating that ST2 will in some way reduce the number of huge houses in the exurbs? How will giving people a relatively fast dependable trip to Overlake keep them from driving from there to places further out where they build mega houses? Will people on trains be banned from driving to and from the stations? What makes you think that ST2 riders will own fewer cars? How much energy will be used to build ST2? If they finish 50 miles of light rail by 2027 (doubt either the 50 miles or 2027) how long would it take for that project to become GHG neutral?
What if the $20 billion in 2007 dollars were used to induce people into high mileage cars (hybrids, bio diesel and electric cars) wouldn't that reduce GHG the fastest and make it the hardest to get far from employment centers or in other words more difficult to live in the country in mega houses.
One more very important point:
However, I am not able to stomach $6.7 billion or $14 billion on roads—roads— when I was told by everyone in town that $3 billion or $11 billion was too much for mass transit.
That $3-11 billion (which really was about $5-7 billion) would've paid for a giant tram with capacity for maybe a few thousand people a day, assuming full capacity on every trip, which given the Green Line's grid (West Seattle to Downtown to Interbay/Ballard) was highly unlikely.
However, the roads being built and improvements made will definitely be used by hundreds of thousands of motorists every single day, if not millions. And several of those motorists will be shipping valuable goods. You can't carry freight on a monorail.
Gomez @ 19, 22:
You make a clever point about freight and road use, to which I will only say this:
The $6.7B roads package does not include the cost of cars, trucks, gas, insurance, mechanics, and drivers. Just asphalt. Lots and lots of asphalt.
Meanwhile, Sound Transit is providing the whole enchilada: tracks, train cars, drivers, maintenance facilities, etc., etc.
If we do a true comparison, I think light rail comes out much more favorably.
MHD @17: I would vote for this measure even if it included a provision for clubbing baby seals twice a year.
Ha. My sentiments exactly -- coming from someone who gives money to animal welfare/rights groups.
MHD: If I were a Spanaway resident that commuted to Ft. Lewis, I would resent a bunch of Capitol Hill fundamentalists trying to tell me what roads I need in *my* neighborhood.
Emphasis on fundamentalists. Andrew Sullivan in his book "The Conservative Soul" does a great job of identifying fundamentalism of various stripes. Whether we're talking evangelical Christians or fascist Islamists or even environmentalists, the focus is on purity, i.e. Puritans, puritanical. For the fundamentalist, it is better to aim for purity and fail miserably and flagellate yourself afterwards than it is to compromise and accept something less than perfection but far better than failure. In fact, the more miserable things get, the more it just plays into their apocalyptic vision of a world that can only be cleansed of evil once it is overrun by evil.
Ultimately, there is no arguing with these people. Theirs is an "assault on reason" even worse than any of Karl Rove's Machiavellian media manipulations. And fundamentalism is what makes them who they are. A person inclined towards fundamentalism will find a fundamentalist cause to latch onto, whether that cause is on the left or the right.
Both the RTID and ST2 are needed. Even if every single commuter could take transit, you still have to move goods around. 167 for example is backed up with trucks every day. Not commuters but freight, shipping and industrial trucks.
RTID is a bargain for those who will vote for ST2. Seattle is getting more transit out of ST2, and South King Co and Pierce county are getting some roads and everyone is happy. If you want people in Snohomish to help pay for a train station at north gate, you have to pay for part of their roads.
And if you love transit so much and don't drive a car (like me), then you won't even pay much for RTID because it is mostly paid for by MVET, with only a .1% increase in sales tax (even if you spent $50,000 on sales-taxes ites you would only pay $50 for RTID).
The big problem with ST2 is the time frames are so long.
The "carbon footprint" argument is silly anyway. What is the "carbon footprint" of I-5? If you car so much about "carbon footprints" not allow gas to be sold in the county. Better yet, let's destroy all roads and make cars illegal. Then we could be sure there's a smaller carbon footprint for our region.
where does the light rail extension go?
if it doesn't go to magnusson park my dog doesn't give a shit.
As someone who has fought for light rail and monorail and fought against a new viaduct, the people I've found most exasperating in this never-ending Seattle-area transit-vs.-freeways, density-vs.-sprawl debate aren't "the enemy," so to speak -- the expected enemy. Instead, it's the people who claim to be environmentalists -- and probably are entirely sincere about it -- but who inevitably come up with some reason to oppose whatever the current transit proposal is.
I think a lot of these greens who are lining up against ST2 ostensibly because of RTID would be just as opposed to ST2 if it were not paired with RTID. They would come up with some other reason to oppose ST2. Oh, it doesn't serve this area or that area. There's some superior technology. The agency is mismanaged. Ultimately, there is no satisfying these people because ultimately this is not about transit or routes or technology or management. It's about the fact that ST2 represents the establishment, pragmatism, etc.
Forgive me for dredging up something I wrote here a week ago, but I can't help but repeat:
Y'know, if this election is going to bring out a debate between the pragmatists and the fundamentalists, the Gores and the Naders, among transit supporters, I'm really looking forward to it. Because I'm really looking forward to striking a mortal blow to the old Seattle utopian school that never met a transit system that was perfect enough to actually build.
Angry Andrew @25:
The big problem with ST2 is the time frames are so long.
Blame your state legislator for that. The ST2 projects are fundamentally revenue-limited, not engineering-limited. If we weren't the only rail project in the nation getting zilch from their state capitol, we could bring up the completion date by several years.
Anyway, it looks like the final package promises Northgate by 2018, and Kent/Des Moines and Bellevue by 2021. That's a substantial improvement over everything in 2027.
23. That was such a stretch to try and make a counterargument that I almost laughed.
Roads are inherently modular: any number of different vehicles can use them, plus they can be easily paved, expanded and altered.
Transit infrastructure can only be built for a particular device, takes forever to build out and expand, and can only travel along the created route.
It says volumes that it costs as much to build one two-track 10 mile rail line... as it does to expand and build out a network of roads across an entire county.
C'mon, a counterargument's gotta have more substance than that.
If I'm still alive I will be in my late 60's by the time any of this get's finished. I just vote the way the Stranger tells me.
I'm voting YES for 3 modes of transit (light rail extensions, Sounder commuter railand Express regional buses) and actually I am pretty happy to see a whole lotta $ for roads. That big roads package is going to pay for lots of little things (and big things) freeing up cash for the Viaduct & 520 and a LOVE what I see in ST2. Makes me very happy and optimistic about the future. No one in Washington will ever think a transportation package is perfect or good enough but I think this is going to help -- a lot.
@30 - it's not an either or. We need both. I'm for the RTID, the whole package. I'm a libertarian on transit. I believe in choice, not having the state coerce me to use a car if I don't want to. Roads, trains, buses, boats, planes -- the more the merrier, I say.
How about ST and RTID both just release their tax collection projections (year by year) and their spending projections (year by year). That way we can take a look to see if it makes sense.
Each of them plans on imposing a fixed percentage tax. The total collections will go up in a geometric progression. That is, as we move out along the Y time axis, the curve upward along the dollars X axis gets steeper and steeper each year.
At some point, they'll have to stop (or slow down) by reducing those fixed percentages (otherwise they'd be taking in more than they need). When would that reduction likely be?
Look, I'm not COMPLAINING about the cost, but I don't understand the scope of overall taxes.
The revenues and costs projections I've described here are what Seattle Monorail messed up on. It makes no sense for ST and RTID to keep this information hidden.
@2 - Josh, Ivan, I'll be voting down the combined package because Global Warming is NOW, and building more roads instead of paying more than 40 percent of the cost of repairing existing bridges and highways is just plain insane.
Next time, give us an unencumbered ST2 package and pay for the bridges. Or you lose.
@10 - if they change it and reprioritize to fixing existing roads, making HOV, and upping the 520 bridge portion (only 40 percent of costs), they will gain way more voters than they lose from having the ST chair whine about it.
@27 - it doesn't matter if ST LINK went to your house, your dog still wouldn't give a shit, because the only way your dog rides on it is if it's a service dog. Walk to the park and stop whining.
By the way, showing tax revenue projections on a chart (Y axis – dollars; X axis - time) is common and standard. ST’s annual financial plans show that.
Those charts would show "year of collection” dollars. To get the present value of them, a present value calculation is made. That would suggest, for example, what collecting a given number of dollars in 2030 would mean in 2006 dollars.
But that is an extra calculation. The charts showing what the revenue collection projections are each year going forward are important. ST and RTID have to have them because they need to match revenues to both debt service and security requirements and, to a lesser extent, project expenditure needs.
It’s all about the bonds, and how much of them ST and RTID/the State can sell at any point between now and 2025. My understanding is that RTID money would go to secure state debt(anyone sure about this one way or the other???). Murphy seemed concerned about SR 520 financing, and RTID revenues supposedly will be allocated to that.
We’re talking many billions. ST and RTID haven’t let on about the scope of their projected bond sales, either.
I love the idea of a true transit system for the Puget Sound ie Light Rail, but why do we have to wait 20 years to get it done? We are already 20 years behind where we should be as a region, so why can't we get this project fast tracked??? Oh wait...cause we can't seem to do anything even remotely fast around here. We will probably still be arguing details 20 years from now...
Since we’re on the topic, let’s talk about hyperinflation.
What ST plans on doing is selling “Phase II” bonds about three times: 2010, 2015, and 2021. Billions of dollars worth each time, and with four-decade repayment obligations. These’d be secured by all of ST’s taxing authority, as long as any are outstanding.
The number of tax dollars ST would be raking out of the pockets of the residents of this region in 2050, for example, would be astronomical.
But let’s say ST’s inflation factor projections are low. Let’s say world events result in hyperinflation in 2014 –2017. ST will still sell billions in bonds in 2015, but it would have to pay 18% interest. That would mean the taxes collected would be much greater than anticipated (they’d last longer, for example).
Can anyone think of any good arguments why ST and RTID should not disclose their revenue projections, and projected bond sales dates and amounts? What inflation rate, revenue growth rates, bond sale interest rates and present value calculation rates do ST and RTID use for their tax cost estimates? Please understand, gentle readers, tax cost of these things on our community FAR exceed the costs of the “projects.” They say $17 billion (present value) in capital expenditure costs. The taxes they’d need (present value) could be triple or more of that. THOSE are important numbers too. But if someone disagrees . . .
It's all about the debt.
The same lawyers who designed all the legal documents for ST1 (and are making piles off it) also drafted all the documents for Seattle Monorail (they made piles off it too, just not nearly as much as they wanted). Guess what - it is the same group of lawyers who drafted all the ST2 documents. Approve that one in November, and guess what - that group of lawyers would make so much fucking money you wouldn't beleive it. There would be multi-million dollar bonuses every year going forward to 10 or 12 of the big shot partners at Foster Pepper and K + L Gates for the next several decades. Paid for by regressive taxes that are slamming those least able to afford it in this region.
All of you above who are whimpering about how much you really really want the shiny new trains are self-absorbed, myopic and thoughtless. Max your personal credit cards out first, then come post here and tell us we as a region should max out our public credit cards by this bonding scam a few greedy hucksters are trying to foist on us.
The ST vote that passed about ten years ago was for a transit agency to be created, to build rail connecting Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Seattle.
It was not for roads!
Now, part way along building that regional rail system, politicians have said "ha-ha voters, if you want to continue with the light rail project you laready approved, now you have to vote for lots of roads, too!"
The automobile/asphalt/congestion/sprawl/global warming/let's keep subsidizing-foreign-oil-producers-crowd and their dupes have taken our desire for transit hostage.
This is not what voters voted for when they approved ST in the first place.
It's a bait and switch.
Many of the projects in the RTID package will result in lower emissions because they get cars moving rather than sitting in traffic, spewing fumes hour after hour.
Doing nothing about chronic road chokpeoints will make our carbon footprint bigger not smaller.
very minor point: service dogs ride for free; lap dogs ride for free; and, larger dogs may ride at same fare as accompanying human.
Josh et al:
Our vote on the joint ballot measure should send a message to three governments: state, ST, and RTID. the two regional governments are creatures of state government. if they have set up governments and votes we do not like, we need to tell them. That RTID wants to use the sales tax is quite wrong. it is unfair, inefficient, and politically risky. it uses a general tax to expand road capacity at a time of global warming. it is about one-third of their revenue. the direct transit projects in RTID are a relatively small part of their program: buses for CT, BAT lanes in Shoreline, South Lander Street overcrossing, Industrial Way ramp, South Park bridge, center to center ramps at I-405 and SR-167, and service mitigation. a freeway lane is a freeway lane. the legislature should have set up user fees for RTID.
how far from perfect may a ballot measure fall and still attract an affirmative vote? what is practical about the current formulation? how impressive are north sounder, south Link LRT to the Tacoma Dome, 11,000 park-and-ride spaces.....
Lowering the carbon footprint from automobilies requires lowering the amount of carbon that cars emit. California, BC and the other West Coast states are going to lead the way on forcing the vehicle fleet to change to different fuels.
Automobile usage is not going to be significantly reduced by spending billions to build new urban passenger trains. It's an alternative that relatively few can use, because the tracks don't go to enough of the places where people want to go.
The environmental impact statements (EIS) from Sound Transit and Puget Sound Regional Council reveal high growth in car travel that is only barely affected by a few hundred thousand daily train riders. The forecast for 2040 is 20 million trips per day, the vast majority on roads and rubber tires. In 2040, cars will get 100 mpg or more. Gotta happen.
Billions spent on the Sound Transit's tunneled Seattle Light Rail Subway and other trains is a feel good program that actually makes global warming worse because of the emissions generated in construction ... diesel dump trucks hauling dirt for years and years around the clock. (Oh I forgot, Sound Transit is going to explore using battery powered trucks...)
The real deal: Fix the traffic lights, fix parking, and reallocate street space so that low-emission buses and bicycles have the space to work.
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