News Testing Green Power
posted by May 21 at 15:58 PMon
Environmentalists have been pushing behind the scenes, with some success apparently, to get some helpful language into the final RTID plan (like commitments to go with HOV lanes, HOT lanes, and tolling; and full-funding for 520).
It’s not clear how much authority any of this language will have, though. However, progressive politicians like KC Exec Ron Sims will be able to use the language as a hammer to ensure that RTID doesn’t spike single occupancy vehicle use in King County.
Also unclear is how successful the environmentalists will be at removing the controversial Cross Base Highway from the RTID project list. The Cross Base, a deal breaker for many enviros and progressives, is a proposed 6-mile highway to link East and West Pierce County—Frederickson to Lakewood on I-5. It’s called Cross Base because it crosses Ft. Lewis and McChord. There’s $477 million in the current RTID budget for the project.
Environmentalists hate the project. Not only is it a pure car capacity project, but it would destroy environmentally sensitive, or “Green Field” land.
Last week, the report was that the anti-Cross Base Highway faction, with supporters like Pierce County Council Member Shawn Bunney, was going to roll Pierce County Executive John Ladenberg—an adamant Highway Supporter—on the issue. Bunney told the Tacoma News Tribune that he supports building the highway, but not at the expense of sacrificing support for the joint $16 billion Light Rail/RTID ballot measure.
The RTID Board is supposed to approve its final plan on Thursday, May 31.
If the Cross Base Highway is off the table it will be a measure of how powerful the local environmental community is—and more importantly, how prominent environmental concerns have become for regular voters. Indeed, if the RTID board thinks it cannot send its $7 billion package (coupled with Sound Transit’s $9 billion package) to voters with the Cross Base Highway on the list, it’ll prove that Al Gore won.