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Friday, October 5, 2007

Roads! Transit! You Love It!

posted by on October 5 at 17:17 PM

I spent some time at the Transportation Choices Coalition’s Friday Forum on the roads and transit package this afternoon at the downtown YMCA. Although I’m not a fan of the proposal (too many roads, and the transit will take 50 years to build finance), I wanted to hear what the pro side had to say about the roads component of the package, which includes 152 new miles of general-purpose highway miles (and 30 miles of HOV lanes). Here are some of the questions people asked, the roads and transit supporters’ answers, and my analysis.

How can environmentalists support a package that includes so many new miles of road?

Bill LaBorde, Environment Washington: “Nothing is set in stone in this package except the taxes. Our attitudes about climate change are going to change on this. State elected officials are going to change. There’s going to be cost overruns associated with this package.”

Megan Blanck-Weiss from Futurewise: “[The package] invests in failing infrastructure and focuses on safety and maintenance.”

Of course it’s possible that the various components of the package will change, but it is this package we’re voting on. And this package has accountability measures built in to guarantee that every road in it gets built. Nobody on the pro side is going around saying that Sound Transit will go over budget and not actually go to Redmond, so why are they banking on the eventual failure of the roads half of the package? As for the “safety and maintenance” claims: Of all the safety projects in the package, only one—the South Park Bridge—is fully funded through roads and transit. The rest will have to get the remainder of their funding elsewhere.

What parts of the package do you not support, and why?

Rob Johnson, Transportation Choices Coalition: “Certainly there are investments we are concerned about on I-405… [SR-] 167… [and] US-2 –- that does include some safety money but other money, that’s not about safety. And we’re concerned about making sure the $1.1 billion for the [SR-] 520 bridge gets spent in a way that’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t harm wetlands. We feel like 85 percent of the ballot measure is good.

Jessyn Farrell, Transportation Choices Coalition: “There’s $2 billion for the north end of 405 in there, so in a lot of ways we lost that fight. … The radical opportunity here is to say, ‘fine, we’re not going to fight anymore, because we fought and we lost.’ The ‘just say no’ philosophy, frankly, didn’t work …One of the things that made it possible for us to say, OK, we’re going to swallow hard and accept [405 funding] is that… I don’t think it’ll ever open as general purpose lanes.”

The Sierra Club actually puts the percentage of “bad” projects in the package much higher—about 75 percent of the roads portion of the package, compared to TCC estimates of 37 percent. And again, there are accountability measures that stipulate what must be built, and what the roads and transit package calls for is two new general-purpose lanes in each direction for 405. Conceivably, that could change, but it’s still this package Farrell and others support—and this package includes $2 billion to expand I-405.

You talk a lot about how this is the starting point and we’ll get rid of the roads. Aren’t there probably people sitting in another room across town right now saying exactly the opposite – this is the starting point and we’ll get rid of transit?

LaBorde: “That’s absolutely happening, but they are not going to win… [Light] rail will open. People are going to like it. And on the Eastside, they already want it in their communities. [The opposition is] really driven by a bunch of crotchety antisocial white men and most people want it.”

That, of course, may be wishful thinking—as one Eastside resident who attended the forum pointed out. But then again, he was a crotchety old white man—and a Sierra Club member.

The Sound Transit plan includes 12,000 new parking stalls. Is that a good use of taxpayer dollars?

Blanck-Weiss: “Parking at a transit station is better than driving the whole way in.”

Gordon Black, Bicycle Alliance of Washington: “Personally, I’m disturbed by the number of large parking structures Sound Transit is planning. It’s incumbent on all of us to change the mindset of sound Transit.”

It may be true that it’s better to drive and take transit into town and get on a bus—but does that mitigate the fact that building a massive parking garage at a transit hub is a lousy land use decision?

What does the polling say? Will it pass?

Johnson: “The other parts of the region support an integrated approach. On a region-wide ballot measure, it’s more likely for both to pass together than either alone.”

Right now, the whole measure is polling at around 54 percent, a number that appears to be dropping, not rising.

Why can’t it just come back next year, given that transit is popular?

LaBorde: “Everyone assumes it would bad to have this on the ballot next year.
There’ll be a real temptation to scale back the transit side of the package.”

Farrell: “Sound Transit, maybe more than any other time besides 2000-2001, doesn’t have friends in the legislature. … The governor doesn’t want to run on a tax measure, [House Speaker] Frank Chopp doesn’t want a bunch of Democrats running on a tax measure, and there are a lot of legislators who just don’t like Sound Transit.”

Prognostications about the future are just that—predictions that may or may not come true. It’s interesting to me that TCC and other environmental groups that support roads and transit assume nothing is set in stone about the roads side of the package (“Sure, we’re voting for roads, but only because we’ll take them out later!”) but are absolutely 100% rock-solid certain that Sound Transit will never be back on the ballot if this fails. Seems like serious cognitive dissonance to me.

RSS icon Comments


Like maxsolomon said about the Viaduct debate - Retarded! Just bold it, VOTE NO, and let's move on.

Since Americans are as airplane addicted ("I MUST fly 6000 miles this weekend") as they are auto obsessed, let's jumpstrart that 1960s solo-jetpack research, and then we can we all cruise around like mosquitos.

Posted by beatenandjaded | October 5, 2007 5:33 PM

"The legislation thus assures voters that the RTID board cannot substitute a new project for an approved project or abandon an approved project without resubmitting the issue to the voters."
Page 7, RTID plan document

Unfortunately, Sound Transit has no such protections.

So, you can scale back Sound Transit without a public vote, but change RTID and the people have to decide, along with a majority of at least one county council.

Posted by Chris | October 5, 2007 5:38 PM

Laborde got it more or less right, only the taxes are set in stone. They should just say give us $600 million a year and we'll do what we think is best. That would be honest.

Posted by whatever | October 5, 2007 5:49 PM

Wow, lots of debate among "environmentalists" on whether the roads portion is 37% bad or 85% bad.

Now that they've established what they are, all that remains is to negotiate the price.

Posted by Polar Bears Against Prop.1 | October 5, 2007 5:55 PM

If you've ever met Will Knedlik, Jim Horn or Kemper Freeman, you know what I mean about the crotchety old, anti-social white guys.

I don't think altering the shape of the road projects will be easy, but 20% cost overruns require the RTID board and/or the voters to revisit the RTID measure. There's a decent likelihood of that, but it's not a sure thing. But, there's also a damn good chance the electorate's values on climate and transportation will continue to evolve over the next 10-15 years, making changes in RTID possible.

The more likely scenario, however, is system-wide congestion pricing. The Blueprint language pushes RTID in this direction. No re-vote would be required. If voters approve the ballot measure, they're approving this pricing policy direction.

I'm sure ST will be back on the ballot if this fails, but I doubt it will be back on the ballot without roads. And I'm fairly certain that it will be back in scaled back form and it won't be back next year, probably not the year after.

BTW, I agree that the Democrats have the politics about a 2008 transit vote all wrong, but their irrational fears will carry the day.

Posted by Bill LaBorde | October 5, 2007 6:24 PM

Erica Barnett: the transit will take 50 years to build.

Erica, I'm 99.9% sure you mean 50 years to fund, as in retire all the debts. It's going to take up 20 years to actually build it all out.

Well, let's see if Erica's as quick to make a correction on this as she was yesterday on those emissions numbers.

Posted by cressona | October 5, 2007 6:42 PM

Bill, I met Joel Horn. He is not a crotchety old, anti-social white guy. He has ebullient enthusiasm, to the point that he never shuts up. Not good qualities for project management perhaps, but crotchety? anti-social? No, not even close.

Jeez, he managed to get himself put in charge of both the Commons and the Monorail projects. O for 2, but you can't get to that place by being either crotchety or anti-social, much less both.

Good point on congestion pricing, but that'll never happen unless a prominent local politico begs the state to do it, as only they have the authority...careful about all the Ron Sims dissin, y''ll need him to make sure there's no egg on your face if it passes.

Posted by BB | October 5, 2007 6:52 PM

Perfect or no the fact is next year we are going to be debating one of two things-

How to get these freeways built more environmentally friendly.


How to convince the region that it is a good idea to build Ron Sim's light rail.. to Northgate. Oh and why we will need many more Metro busses. Oh and how to start providing money for 520... and the South Park Bridge... etc. etc. Oh and how the eastside is going to go ahead with the 405 anyway.

These freeways aren't going away. The demand is too high. Light rail could slip through our hands- people like Sims are going to fuck it up with more and more political compromise.

How many years are going to go by before we start fixing our problems!?

Oh and Erica, the last thing we need is more lies surrounding this project- it will take 20 years to build the transit.

Posted by Cale | October 5, 2007 6:54 PM

Dear Erica,
It's already pretty apparent from your post that you're a sloppy reporter. But let's see now if you're an unethical reporter. Let's see if you refuse to make a correction that is due. You wrote:

Conceivably, that could change, but it’s still this package Farrell and others support—and this package includes $2 billion to expand I-405.

What Jessyn Farrell was referring to when she said "We already lost that fight" was the $2 billion the legislature had already committed to 405 to the north. This package commits $900 million to fund I-405 to the south, from Bellevue to Renton. Check page 30 of RTID's Blueprint for Progress.

Posted by cressona | October 5, 2007 7:03 PM

BB @7: Bill, I met Joel Horn. He is not a crotchety old, anti-social white guy.

Read Bill LaBorde's post more carefully. He was referring to Jim Horn, former state senator from Mercer Island.

Posted by cressona | October 5, 2007 7:07 PM

Reading this post from Erica, I've come to appreciate all the more people like Bill LaBorde and Jessyn Farrell. These are people who have the decency and the confidence in their own arguments that they don't feel compelled to resort to lies.

Posted by cressona | October 5, 2007 7:21 PM

Why are environmentalists so goddamned stupid? Really, why are environmentalists so goddamned stupid. Jesus, these people are chumps, suckers, fucktards. Sound Transit hasn't carried a single passenger yet with light rail. They're going to be three years late, 900 million dollars over budget and several miles short of what they promised to deliver in 1996. Yet despite Sound Transit's dismal record on delivering light rail, their incredibly expensive, not particularly reliable and sprawl subsidizing Sounder rail and their bus services which do nothing that existing transit agencies (Metro, Community Transit, Pierce Transit) weren't already doing or couldn't have done we're supposed to go to the polls this November, bend over, grab our ankles and let Sound Transit fuck us in the ass for the next 50 years or so. And of course there are no guarantees that Sound Transit will actually build the system it wants to raise our taxes for.

But none of this matters to environmentalists because global warming is coming, and OMFG, if we don't do something right now all of the polar bears are going to die. I don't know who pisses me off more. The assholes on the right who keep telling me that if we don't keep pissing money and lives away in Iraq that the terrorists are going to come to America and kill us all or the environmentalists, who tell us that if we don't piss money down the rathole that is Sound Transit that we're all going to die of global warming.

Listening to ST2 supporters tell me that Sound Transit is doing better than they were and that therefore I should want to give them large quantities of money until I die is reminiscent of listening to David Petraeus tell us all how well things are going in post-surge Iraq. The dynamic is the same, don't focus on your past fuck-ups and don't make any commitments as to future progress, just say that you're not fucking up as much as you used to, and that if everyone will only have faith (and keep giving you money) that wonderful things might happen at some indefinite time in the future.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | October 5, 2007 7:34 PM

Some fact checking might give the Stranger a better rep outside of the Cap Hill set.

For instance - you have printed that there were going to be 1500 lane miles in this package - a gross overstatement - and remarkably never a correction.

Now you say the transit portion will take "50 years to be built". Sorry dear, the construction will take 20 years and the financing will go out 50 because the last 30 year bond will be purchased in 2027.

I know, there are lots of numbers and it can be confusing, but you should get your facts straight.

Posted by Fact Check? | October 5, 2007 7:35 PM

Cressona you'd be a lot more persuasive if you didn't come off like the most annoying person at the neighborhood meeting. A shrill know-it-all.

Posted by poster girl | October 5, 2007 7:46 PM

ECB, have you ever driven the length of 405?

Posted by Bax | October 5, 2007 7:50 PM

Poster Girl @14:

Cressona you'd be a lot more persuasive if you didn't come off like the most annoying person at the neighborhood meeting. A shrill know-it-all.

Poster girl, thanks for the advice. So are you not bothered by Erica's repeated factual errors and distortions?

Here's another one: These environmental groups "are absolutely 100% rock-solid certain that Sound Transit will never be back on the ballot if this fails."

None of these environmentalists ever said that. What they have said is that there is great uncertainty when ST2 will be back (and not in 2008); ST2 will likely be back in scaled-down form; ST2 will likely still be coupled with roads.

Posted by cressona | October 5, 2007 8:10 PM

I love how all the quotes that agree with ECB"s view are from the same sect of wackos who hate this package because the purveyors of the package actually act like roads exist and people actually drive on them.

Posted by Gomez | October 5, 2007 8:30 PM

did you sleep through this forum? For Christs sakes. Facts meet Erica. Erica meet facts.

You are sloppy.

You should take your GHG emitting scooter off capitol hill more often

Posted by steve | October 5, 2007 8:55 PM

Hey Steve,

I don't know if you were actually at this forum, but my quotes are all direct and accurate. Also, I ride a bike, not a scooter.


Posted by ECB | October 5, 2007 10:35 PM

Cressona @ 11,

While I disagree with Bill LaBorde and you on this package, I do think you are both rigorous thinkers who try and pay attention to detail, and are both trying to be intellectually honest - and I really do appreciate that.

What I don't appreciate, though, is your tendency to characterize anyone who sees the world in a different way than you (or who makes an honest mistake interpreting data) as a "liar". I know you're passionate, but you're also thoughtful enough that you ought to choose your words more carefully when you attribute motives to people.

Now, that said, the anti R-67 campaign ads from the insurance companies are some cynical lying ass BS, indeed (and, to use a term you've tried to pin on me more than once - an actual example of fake populism).

Posted by Mr. X | October 5, 2007 11:04 PM

And Erica,

It's not cognitive dissonance. They are not trying to take the roads out, they are trying to ensure that they are built to be as environmentally friendly as they can.

There is a very good chance we will not see light rail on the ballot again until 2009. When we do see it, there is a very good chance it will be severely scaled down.

Don't let this happen- let's make it easy on ourselves. Don't let Seattle be bogged down in perfectionism and overzealous idealism. We can make this thing work. We can make THIS proposition work. We can make our voices and ideals heard to great benefit during the public process of the final design of these roads.

Don't let a fantastic opportunity pass you by-

Move foward.

Vote yes.

Posted by Cale | October 5, 2007 11:46 PM

Blahblah, I'm Erica C. Barnett and I hide my inability to write behind bolded phrases and big words. And for some arbitrary reason, I insist on using my middle initial...

Posted by Amelia | October 5, 2007 11:51 PM

Cale @ 21,

I have to beg - respectfully - to differ with you on this point. I wouldn't necessarily use the term "cognitive dissonance", but it IS odd to see urban rail advocates rationalize road projects they would normally loathe to get the rail project they want.

I have spent a fair amount of time at SLOG trying to make the point that most people in Seattle - let alone throughout the region - still rely heavily on cars, and will do so for a long time time to come, and that punishing drivers mostly amounts to punishes working stiffs who don't have realistic alternatives, and I've been accused of being everything from a fake populist to an actual republican for doing so.

As a result - I do find it ironic to see posters who favor the rail side of the equation and who have heretofore spent a lot of time dumping on cars and the people who have to drive them to get from point A to point B suddenly defending adding lanes to SR 520, I-90, I-405, etc.

Trust me, both sides of this ballot will be back before us if this version fails at the polls. As with stadia - once Establishment Washington (tm) decide to do something, losing at the polls is just a temporary roadblock.

BTW - Wile_E @ 12 - great post, but I would add that ST is actually gonna be 10+ years late getting to the U-District, and even that's only as far as Husky Stadium - not even the core of the UD.

Posted by Mr. X | October 6, 2007 2:50 AM

I'm just a Beacon Hill housewife who has a stupid commute to 97th and Aurora everyday, not a Seattle Big Thinker by any stretch, but I am voting for this thing.

I know ST hasn't delivered on everything they promised, but I was also there through much of the planning of light rail (from a neighborhood meeting standpoint) and I can understand why: Anytime you try to build a major infrastructure project through a heavily built-up area, it's the civic version of house-to-house combat. The south end link fight was inane, with charges of racism and ridiculous expectations (one woman wanted the ST rep to "guarantee" her personal safety as she waited on the platform at the Beacon Hill station).

It will no doubt be worse as ST moves into the tonier neighborhoods and into the eastside, but it is worth it We should have done it forty years ago.

As for the ST parking garages, I really fail to see the issue here. The park-and-ride concept has been around for 100 years. Everyone loves to use New York as an example of working transit, so look at the stations on the metro North, LIRR and Nj Transit for evidence that park 'n ride is desirable. The days when the "little woman" dropped the man off at the station in the morning are long gone, after all.

Highways? I don't know from highways. I don't go to the eastside (I have no reason to) but I'm realistic enough to realize that we will continue to use highways for the forseeable future.

This project is guilty of trying to do too much at the same time, but that's because we really haven't done anything since we built I-5. We might as well bite the bullet and get this over with.

Plus those commercials with that annoying woman and the cash register are hateful. And Kemper Freeman is a tool.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | October 6, 2007 6:55 AM

Mr. X @20, I appreciate your recognizing that I try to be intellectually honest. So you'll understand that I'm bothered by Erica's utter inability to be intellectually honest. However, while I did not directly call Erica a "liar," I do acknowledge that I implied that she lied, and for that I'm wrong.

Have her factual errors, however systematically weighted toward the "no" side, been lies? No.

Beyond that, there is a distinction between spin and bullshit and out-and-out lies. And however subtle that distinction is, I should be smart enough to recognize it.

Here's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. OK, no, it's not a lie in the biblical sense, but it is a pretty blatant misrepresentation:

It’s interesting to me that TCC and other environmental groups that support roads and transit assume nothing is set in stone about the roads side of the package … but are absolutely 100% rock-solid certain that Sound Transit will never be back on the ballot if this fails. Seems like serious cognitive dissonance to me.

Talk about cognitive dissonance…

Posted by cressona | October 6, 2007 7:05 AM

OMG people. This city never ceases to amaze me in its ineptitude. This city needed a train system 20 years ago. Heck maybe even 40 years ago. Why is it so hard for the governmental bodies in this region to just say, "Hey we claim to be a big ole world class city. Maybe we should try and actually BE one, including having RELIABLE PUBLIC TRANSIT...USUALLY BY TRAIN. Maybe we should build that...NOW."

And then god damned do it!

But no, we have to have meetings and committees and opinion polls and more meetings and votes that don't actually decide what's going to happen but just votes on what we want to happen (remember the viaduct stupidness?)and blah blah blah...

One day, probably 50 years from now, Seattle will be a real city and not just a small town full of bickering people.

We should vote this bill down because it's stupid and doesn't actually give us a train system anytime soon or without ridiculous compromises (hello, if you build transit that people will actually take from the suburbs then less people will drive and you won't need to expand the roads) and then tell the representatives that are trying to force this down our throats to give us some damned transit and give it to us now or we'll vote their sorry asses right out of power.

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | October 6, 2007 8:18 AM

We should be building transit inside the city and up-zoning. Regional transit makes for a bigger congested metro area, induced sprawl - as someone mentioned above NYC has park and rides in NJ - now that's a model we want to emulate. If p'n'k s are by stations then the communites won't likely be walkable.

The perfect is not the enemy of the pathetic. Bad roads, bad transit, bad management, PR driven agencies that pay off citizens' groups.

The only thing set in this vote is 50 years of taxing authority. If ST does the same job they are now forecasting for ST1 it will take 40 years to get 90% of the system built.

Posted by whatever | October 6, 2007 8:39 AM

It won't be next year, and it is unlikely to be the year after, but Erica is right that there will be a Plan B if this package fails.

And we'll be able to put it in place a lot faster, and at lower cost, than the ST2 proposal. Get ready to hop on the bus, ECB.

Posted by Sandeep Kaushik | October 6, 2007 8:42 AM

#26, you got it backwards son-

light rail isn't ever going to take less time to build, unless there is serious public demand and elected official pressure to do so. it's happened before in dallas where a 77% vote sold bonds to complete it faster. perhaps that might come after central link is completed... in 2009.

by voting this down you are delaying the process by 2 years, for something that could occur with a yes vote anyway, AND leaving the project wide open to being seriously scaled down.

the 3 county area needs both roads and rail. this isn't just about seattle being a "world-class city."

i agree with the late walt crowley when he said a yes vote represents a tipping point, and the balance will start shifting towards building more transit options in the future.

we need not shove light rail down everybody's throat- it doesn't make sense. lets get their roads built, as environmentally friendly as possible, and then after they have a chance to grow and see seattle's light rail in action, they will demand lines of their own.

Posted by Cale | October 6, 2007 8:42 AM

There'll be two no votes from this family on "Roads and Transit."

We've got too much government debt already.

SHOW ME an operating light rail system first, then ask me to put my neighbors in hock to the tune of $50 billion more.

Posted by Harry Truman | October 6, 2007 8:48 AM

thaumaturgistguy @26,

It's funny that you criticize this region for not having already established a real transit system and for too much process and bickering, but then you advocate a "no" vote on this proposal because it will not give us a train system designed exactly like you want, or at least not "anytime soon."

Don't you realize that a no vote is a vote for delay and inaction and more bickering and process and will certainly not advance the effort to get a real mass transit system in this region? I understand that people have legitimate criticisms of this proposal, but it has been years in the making and I have yet to see any alternative that I believe would be supported by enough taxpayers to be feasible. The result of failure on this measure will likely be more of inaction and ineptitute that you are complaining about.

Posted by ScottH | October 6, 2007 8:56 AM

ECB -- Just so I have this straight -- you don't have a car and ride a bike? So you've never actually driven the full length of 405?

Posted by Bax | October 6, 2007 9:06 AM

The perfect is the enemy of the good. How many times are we going to vote down a train system that isn't good enough because it costs money and doesn't stop in front of my house and isn't made out of organic free-trade renewable cotton?

This is the train you're getting: this one, or none.

Vote no, and you're voting WITH the people who finally killed the monorail, or who stopped the train from coming back in the early seventies.

Fifty years is a fair term for public debt that ACTUALLY RESULTS IN SOMETHING. Public works are expensive. SO WHAT? One of the reason they cost so goddamn much is the endless rounds of nit-picking and nay-saying they have to endure from the likes of YOU PEOPLE.

If Seattle votes this thing down, it's the final proof that we are the can't-do society, a failure as human beings able to work for the future.

And if Seattle doesn't build this train, all those highways are going to get built anyways, somewhere else, and you'll all have to move there because that's where your new job will be.

Posted by Fnarf | October 6, 2007 9:08 AM

This issue is really straightforward.

Is it about light rail?

Or is it about global warming?

If it is about light rail, vote yes. That is just what the road advocates who don't care about global warming are hoping for. Exhibit A, former Republican state chair Chris Vance who tells us in Crosscut that if this does not pass the roads will die, not light rail.

If it is about global warming, vote no. At this point in history, with all we know about global warming and catastrophic climate change, it is reckless to build climate changing highways. See Sightline's post about the effect of new highway lanes.

If the state legislature passed a law saying we have to build a new coal plant every time we built a new wind farm, every liberal on this comment thread would rightly skewer the absurdity of that approach. Yet that is essentially what the legislature has done on transportation, the largest source of global warming pollution in our region.

The Sierra Club and Ron Sims have provided a service to the entire community, including environmentalists, by stepping out in front of this establishment group-think, and telling the truth, the very inconvenient truth, about the global warming effects of this package. (note that the other climate organizations are not supporting the ballot measure). A victory against this ballot measure will fundamentally change the debate on global warming and transportation in a way that accommodation and rearguard action can never do. That is political reality.

It is a choice about global warming. And not even a close one.

Vote no against regressive taxes to make global warming worse, and make the politicians come back with a better plan.

Posted by rtidtstinks | October 6, 2007 10:07 AM

The knee-jerk is the enemy of thought through. The fact is that light rail built since giant trolleys were renamed that by the train builders in the seventies - a time that lite beer, lite lard, lite everything were flourishing -no city that didn't have a substantial rail base can show that the total investment, local, state and federal, has been a good investment.

For the pro regional transit people - why not stand on the Aurora overpasses at Woodland park with Burma Shave style signs VOTE - FAITH - BASED - RAIL.

Posted by whatever | October 6, 2007 10:08 AM

RTIDStinks -

You do have the analysis half right. Roads with ICE propelling the vehicles will add GHG. But a LR built out over 20-30-40 years will not reduce GHG in time to reverse the damage. If we are to make huge capital investments and we think GW is an immediate issue, we need to spend that money wisely. LR that won't begin reducing GHG for 20 to 30 years just doesn't make sense.

BTW since they won't be to the UW until 2016, I don't think delaying the taxes for a year or two would keep from getting to Northgate by the dreamy date of 2018. They still need to tunnel under the UW and don't have an agreement to do so. Think they do? Read the meesage of understanding.

Posted by whatever | October 6, 2007 10:19 AM


The global warming argument is not as cut and dry as that.

NONE of the studies takes into account the growing trend of high density development occuring around light rail stations (like Bel-Red or what is going on now at Northgate) and other transit oriented development.

NONE of the studies accounts for the possible impact of congestion pricing which eliminates many unnecessary trips.

NONE of the studies mentions the potential impact of green technologies getting implemented in cars sooner rather than later.

It is what WE make of it people.

Highways don't increase carbon emissions, people increase carbon emissions. Seattle is full of people who want to decrease carbon emissions. We can stick to our ideals, even with less congestion on the highways.

So in actuality, it is hardly "reckless" to vote for RITD/ST2. It is a smart investment in Seattle's infrastructure.

And a closing thought-

ALL of the studies show that RTID/ST2 is better for reducing carbon emissions than doing nothing.

Posted by Cale | October 6, 2007 10:36 AM

said acronym (let's just refer to it as HRC since that's who her fairy godmother is) has made evident her promotion of FLEXCAR.COM. It is possible that 405 has been driven by HRC.

Posted by writer | October 6, 2007 11:22 AM

Cale - that's funny because til now pro railers have said that they can't give us GHG numbers because they haven't done the EIS yet. Do you have the date ST2 will be GHG neutral?

Of course, it is a straw man argument to say versus doing nothing. I venture to say that very, very few want to do nothing. I would invest these tax resources into green power expansion and speeding the conversion of vehicles to much lower emissions.

Please provide all of the studies. Or was that statement more trickery like saying "the Huskies won't lose today, I guarantee it" because there are no studies.

Posted by whatever | October 6, 2007 11:36 AM

Cale @37:

"Highways don't increase carbon emissions, people increase carbon emissions."

Just like the NRA says "guns don't kill people..."

Do you work for an oil company by any chance?

Posted by otterpop | October 6, 2007 11:37 AM


I was refering to these studies:



Those are the two major ones, if any others have been conducted that I am unaware of I'd appreciate a link.

And please don't call me a straw man or accuse me of working for an oil company. I just want the same thing you guys want- whatever is best for Seattle. I want to live here and have a family here and I just want what's best for the city I love.

And the difference between guns and cars is that while we can build cars that don't emit CO2 and we can get rid of the ones that do, we can't build guns that don't emit bullets and get rid of the ones that don't. It's a silly comparison.

Posted by Cale | October 6, 2007 12:36 PM

Cale and Whatever,

This is a longer post on the issue of global warming. The short answer is that of course new highways make global warming worse, and at this stage of history we should not be building over 180 new miles of highway lanes.

But I thought I would pull together some of what the experts are saying. An analysis of global warming impacts of RTID/ST2 has not been done by RTID or ST.

Here are facts we do know. The scientists tell us we need 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

In the puget sound region, over 50% of emissions are from transportation.

The Urban Land Institute recently studied the greenhouse gas emissions and transportation in a national context.

Their key statement:"if sprawling development continues to fuel growth in driving, the projected 59 percent increase in the total miles driven between 2005 and 2030 will overwhelm expected gains from vehicle efficiency and low-carbon fuels. Even if the most stringent fuel-efficiency proposals under consideration are enacted, notes co-author Steve Winkelman, “vehicle emissions still would be 40 percent above 1990 levels in 2030 – entirely off-track from reductions of 60-80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 required for climate protection.“

In our region, the state Climate Action Team advising Governor Gregoire says "while new tecnologies and cleaner fuels are vital to reducing GHG emissions, as long as annual vehicle miles traveled continues to grow, we'll never be able to meet the state's 2020, 2035, and 2050 goals.

Puget Sound Regional Council in Destination 2030 says that vehicle miles traveled will increase by 45%, which takes into account projected expenditures on Sound Transit and RTID.

The ST final environmental impact statement at pg. 4.2-7 says

"With implementation of the Plan Alternative, vehicle miles traveled across the entire Sound Transit District are expected to be approximately 1 percent less than with the No Action Alternative."

So ST alone, according to ST, takes 1% off a 45% percent increase.

Contrast this with a projected 5% expansion in highway capacity by RTID, according to the Sims article.

According to Sightline, those new lanes rapidly fill up with cars and induce more driving off the highway network.

Now, one can, and probably should pick at the accuracy of all the analyses. But certain conclusions are inescapable. The region's contribution to global warming is currently predicted to increase dramatically, clean fuels don't stop it, and neither does Sound Transit alone. To succeed, we must also reduce vehicle miles traveled. But RTID will increase vehicle miles traveled, exactly as it is designed to do.

I suppose people can try to argue that ST's positive effects outweigh RTID's negative effects. I doubt it, given the transformative nature of roads on sprawling land use, and the fact that every driver taken off the road by ST will be replaced by another driver, plus more on expanded highways.

But what is clear is that a once in a decade multi-billion dollar spending decision, according to the government's numbers, make no real progress on global warming, and is part of regional plans to accommodate a 45% increase in traffic.

As for tolling, it can help reduce vehicles miles traveled, but why increase the baseline of trips before implementation? Furthermore, implementing it makes new lanes unneccesary, saves billions of dollars in construction costs, and can raise money for even more transit. Implementation is also less likely if we have just asked voters to pay billions of dollars in new sales and MVET taxes.

Let's not kid ourselves that this joint ballot measure makes global warming better. At a time when we need dramatic changes in policy, RTID continues road expansion that all the experts tell us will make it impossible to beat global warming.

Vote no. We need a plan that actually fights global warming.

Posted by rtidstinks | October 6, 2007 1:08 PM

Please don't forget that the 50% number you use shares that with planes, trains and ships.

Think about it: we will never solve this problem by NOT BUILDING FREEWAYS.

If you want a fix global warming strategy, there would be a very simple way of doing it:

If we wanted to reduce VMT by 80%, we would need to knock out 80% of our car capacity. If we wanted to reduce airline miles traveled, we would cancel 80% of flights. If we wanted to reduce shipping pollution, we would cancel 80% of freight lines.

That's ludacris. This simplistic method of thinking would be a huge detriment to our economic health and quality of life.

The fact of the matter is that we need green technology to power our cars, airplanes, ships and buildings. If we wanted to be really smart about it, we'd implement carbon taxes that pay for green research. Then we'd be a true leader in the fight against global warming. Better yet, we'd vote for a president who would lead the world with this.

But this is not a vote for or against global warming, this is a vote for or against an infrastructure upgrade.

You can wait as long as you like, but there will never be a transporation package that reduces Seattle's global warming, or even it's vehicle miles traveled by 80%.

Posted by Cale | October 6, 2007 1:36 PM

43 is exactly right. No transportation package--not even one that built only rail--is going to reduce global warming. This vote is not about global warming. It's not about building roads--we already have the roads, and almost every project is adding lanes on existing roads. This vote is about whether we want light rail as well as roads.

A No vote is a vote against light rail. A Yes vote is a vote for light rail. That's the bottom line.

Posted by Cascadian | October 6, 2007 1:58 PM

"But this is not a vote for or against global warming, this is a vote for or against an infrastructure upgrade."

No, it is a vote for or against the wrong kind of taxes coupled with an complete absence of any meaningful taxpayer protection provisions.

There's a "cost" side of the ledger that needs improving FAR more than the "benefit" side.

Since the unions are going to block any attempt at tolling, where do you think the rest of the money for the 520 work is going to come from? Gas taxes? Gregoire says no. Taxes on businesses? Chopp says no (he's not going to hand seats to the Repubs).

Guess what: it'll be more sales taxes. They won't need a vote, they'll just give the counties the authority to raise them.

It is idiotic to vote half a funding package for 27 different projects. How are the city council and Nickels going to raise the balance of what is needed for the Mercer Street SLU roadwork, the viaduct replacement/tunnel work, and the Lander Street overpass work? They aren't saying.

See the scam yet? RTID requires money go to certain projects, and then only half funds them. That way the politicians get to come back and raise taxes without a vote because "the voters in 2007 told us to do these projects, but did not give us enough money."

This is why we need to say no to RTID/ST2 - there is not full funding for the roads projects. You have to watch politicos like a hawk, they'll try this stuff and you can't let them get away with it.

Posted by fungili | October 6, 2007 2:05 PM


As I said above, we don't need to reduce vehicles miles traveled by 80%. We need to reduce global warming pollution by that amount. The experts tell us that goal in the transportation arena requires clean fuels, more efficient vehicles, and reductions in vehicle miles traveled. You can't get to that result with only one or two of the approaches.

And yes, we will also need reductions in shipping, airline travel, etc, as well as energy used for buildings and industry. 80% reductions means that we cannot take anything off the table, or say that something else is the real problem. All of it is part of the problem, and all must be part of the solution. Now, at some point, we will have to prioritize which carbon uses are the most important, which will probably take a market oriented regulatory approach.

But the main point is that 80% is indeed a big number, so there is very little room for any source of global warming pollution to be exempted from the goal. In particular unpriced freeways that encourage driving make almost no sense. There is a tremendous opportunity to conserve trips that we have not even begun to tap into, leaving the roadways for those uses that are more difficult to replace.

We have conserved energy, conserved water use, conserved wilderness and regulated pollution, all of which have been accompanied by economic growth, despite the claims that these actions would ruin the economy. Smarter and more efficient use of fossil fuels, more locally oriented economies, and less wasteful resource use will be very consistent with economic growth, if not essential to it. And pretty much an imperative to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Posted by rtidstinks | October 6, 2007 2:10 PM


RTID spends billions on new highway capacity. That can't be wished away.

your position -- vote for light rail, deny that our choices affect global warming.

Hey, it's a choice. Just not one that we will be able to comfortably explain to our children.

Posted by rtidstinks | October 6, 2007 2:24 PM

@ 45 - The City is planning on implementing a progressive, green MVET to fund the balance of the RTID Mobility Projects you mention (SLU, Lander St. overpass). The remainder of the 520 costs are WSDOT's responsibility - always have been, always will be.

Posted by Westsider | October 6, 2007 3:08 PM

"Smarter and more efficient use of fossil fuels, more locally oriented economies, and less wasteful resource use will be very consistent with economic growth, if not essential to it. And pretty much an imperative to avoid the worst effects of global warming."

I just don't see how doing nothing to expand our freeway capacity will do anything to make usage of fossil fuels more efficient. It will just get more congested with the same growth of people living and driving in the region, and we won't have light rail started to give those people other viable transporation options.

I agree that the steps we have been taking to reduce global warming are good. However, I think with this particular proposal, we are talking about an increase in carbon emissions that will happen anyways unless green technology is given a serious boost, or unless we build ALOT more light rail and figure out a way to do it REALLY quickly.

And as for freeway capacity- if we don't do something about congestion now we will see the movement of goods and services slow down (even local goods and services), and that will undoubtably be bad for the economy.

Just for the record I am a strong believer in a greener future - I conserve electricity, I don't centrally heat my home, my commute is a 15 min bike ride (or a 30 min walk depending on my mood), and when presented with a choice, I buy local food. When presented with any choice in consumption actually, I essentially weigh in three things-

Do I actually want it?
Can I afford it?
Is it green?

Do I want less congestion on the freeways? Yes.
Do I want a regional light rail system? Yes.

Can I afford RTID/ST2? Yes
Is it green? Possibly. At the VERY least it's highly improbably after due process it could be an environmental disaster.


Do I want to see transportation in this region make a discernable impact on global warming? Yes.

Can I afford it? If it actually involved serving everywhere that was clogging up our freeways with light rail, was built in a reasonable amount of time, and included congestion pricing, and necessitated repairs on current roads- I seriously doubt it.

Is it green? Probably.

So there you have a fairly simple methodology that takes into account a fairly broad picture.

Conserving trips is something much different that conserving electricity. I think pretty much everybody in greater Seattle who are going to conserve trips are doing so already. Except for maybe a few, which could be helped with congestion pricing after building light rail. A user tax like this is fair anyways.

We need to give people a choice, but we need to do it in a way that doesn't cripple the economy. I mean it's not like we know when environmental doomsday is. The scientists say we need to reduce by 60-80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. I think many factors will go into that. By that time, if we have 50 miles of light rail (and by then probably a lot more), an economy unshaken because it avoided a stalled shipping industry, and serious progress from national and international funding making green technology economically viable-- then this is a future in which we will be in good shape.

Even in a best case scenario from a pro-rail, NO vote standpoint, we wait 1 year, they come back with an even BIGGER light rail pacakge (how unlikely does that sound), let's say all the way to Everett and from Ballard to Burien, and with more busses, and a few HOV lanes-- we now end up waiting 21 years for light rail, we have no relief in sight for congestion on most freeways, we end up seeing an emaciated shipping industry, and we are looking at stalled movement of people, goods, and services. Even if we have a breakthrough on green research, we wouldn't have had the investment in roads to make it a convenient place to be. Seattle would be happy enough with it's rapid rail system, but most other places in the 3 country system would be screwed.

Can anyone here recommend another transit proposal that would actually decrease carbon emissions, keep the current capacity for travel or increase it, and cost as much or less than prop 1?

Vote yes. RTID/ST2 is a good opportunity.

Posted by Cale | October 6, 2007 3:51 PM

This package is essential. There are a few projects I'd cut, but we don't have the luxury of time to wait for the perfect eco-friendly package.

Think we should wait until it gets split apart? Go for transit-only? Think again. Voters have rejected exactly that kind of package repeatedly. First in 1958. Then in 1962, and again in 1968.

Probably the most heartbreaking failure was in 1970. That year we had a chance to vote on a bond just for light rail and buses. It was called Forward Thrust. The cost was $400 million, which is about $2.1 billion in today's dollars. Even with the federal government covering the additional $900 million of the cost ($4.8 billion in 2007 dollars), the measure failed.

Sounds like the olden days, huh? Not at all. Have we become more progressive in our thinking? Hardly.

In 1988 voters approved an *advisory* measure backing light rail, but then rejected a big rail-only package in 1995. A scaled-back version squeaked through by a narrow margin a following year. (It was just .1 percent over the threshold in Pierce county.) That got us to where we are today. But there is no reason to think that a big ambitious transit plan will be ever approved on its own, and 50 years of experience to to show it will fail. It's been tried over and over, and failed repeatedly. That's why we have this kind of compromise.

We can deal with the political reality, or adopt a pious stance that gets us nowhere but more ecological destruction.

Posted by SouthSeattle | October 6, 2007 4:00 PM

I just wish the Sierra Club and the Erica had chosen to get involved in the last three years while the Roads and Transit package was being crafted at hundreds of public meetings with most of the environmental community working to make them better.

I wish the Sierra Club and Erica had chosen to get involved over the past two years in the legislature trying to get roads and transit unhitched. But they didn't, it wasn't even listed as a legislative priority for the Club.

I wish the Sierra Club and Erica had taken notice when Sound Transit was almost dissolved in the state legislature last year.

I wish the Sierra Club and Erica knew any working class families who can't afford to live in Seattle. Those folks have to drive and take buses just to survive. Even though they have never experienced their lifestyle they feel comfortable looking down on those folks and telling them they need to bear the brunt of the effects of not passing this package.

If you didn't care up until three months ago--why do you care so passionately now? Did you just discover global warming? It is irresponsible to do NOTHING while this package was being put together and to now say trust us to come up with a better package.


Posted by tiptoe tommy | October 6, 2007 4:46 PM

tiptoe tommy 51:

ECB is a reporter and covers Seattle not Olympia. She is not supposed to be an advocate. Sometimes she is anyway. Passion is good.

The Sierra Club worked with a coalition of environmental groups every Session to help on transportation issues. TCC was the lead on them. TCC helped the Legislature and the RTID to improve the packages.

Many Sierra Club members attended ST2 workshops and made suggestions to the ST and RTID boards. For the most part, their suggestions were not followed.

So, your characterizations about prior Sierra Club inaction are false.

The panelists on Friday have the same general objectives as the Sierra Club and Executive Sims. But the proponents find the compromises acceptable and the opponents do not. After November the groups will be working together again.

Despite the improvements and some needed projects, the joint ballot measure has earned a NO vote due to:

1. use of the sales tax for a significant share of the RTID revenue stream despite still having tolls and the local option gas tax available to it. The sales tax is regressive, unfair, and inefficient, as it does not sent a price signal to roadway users.

2. if uses the wrong tax to fund the wrong projects. Despite spending $90 million to replace the South Park Bridge, it spends billions on I-405, SR-167, and SR-509 unpriced general purpose lanes.

3. the transit users of South King and Pierce counties are not helped much by ST2. They get 30-plus years of sales tax, 20 years of Link LRT construction, no addional Sounder trips, and little expansion of bus service that they could ride. Costly LRT capital is put in the wrong place.

4. The roads projects that are funded would make sprawl and global warming worse. The package is one of expansion, not maintenance.

All the environmental groups made close decisions to either support of oppose the joint ballot measure after it was finalized. Since their decisions, they have been as entrenched as WWI armies with ever greater stubborness.

The forced marriage analogy arose at the Friday forum. Is each spouse thinking they can reform the other? Which one will get battered?

An important factor is these packages being poor is that they were put together by three-county bodies. If Prop. One is defeated, RTID is dead.

Posted by eddiew | October 6, 2007 6:28 PM

it spends billions on I-405, SR-167, and SR-509 unpriced general purpose lanes.

RTID pays for 405 to be expanded from 167 to 112th SE. It's already being expanded everywhere else. How is paying to expand it in the only area where it's not presently being expanded the wrong project?

How is adding HOV lanes on SR 167 the wrong project?

How is rebuilding the 167/405 interchange, one of the most congested in the state, the wrong project?

the transit users of South King and Pierce counties are not helped much by ST2.

Oh, bullshit. Have you actually read the project list? You're simply being dishonest.

You can't honestly say that S. King and Pierce don't get more transit. They get the bulk of the length of the light rail extension.

The roads projects that are funded would make sprawl and global warming worse.

How so? Tell us, where is this sprawl going to go?

Most of the new construction being built in the urban growth area in S. King and Pierce Counties is just as dense as most residential Seattle neighborhoods. Just because something is in the suburbs, doesn't make it sprawl. All of these projects that we're talking about are in the urban growth area. This isn't sprawl; it's URBAN growth.

If you ever got out of Seattle and knew anything about the areas you were bitching about, you might learn something.

Posted by Bax | October 6, 2007 10:01 PM

I would have said something but I was in Bethesda doing the Bite of Bethesda in mid 90 degree temps and thinking how all the air conditioners in our hotel and my flight there (for work) probably cranked out lots of global warming gasses using tax dollars (fed).

Luckily, I walk to work and I took transit (carpool taxi to airport Friday, train from Reagan airport to Bethesda, walk to Bite of Bethesda from hotel, train back to Reagan, bus back from airport at midnight Saturday) so it's as little as I can manage.

Still voting NO. Looking forward to voting YES when it's ST 2.1!

Posted by Will in Fremont | October 7, 2007 4:16 AM

Cale your links on studies do not back the straw man argument that doing nothing is worse than passing the RTID/ST2; from one of your linked studies Sightline - "'Tragically, this plan continues the national policy of ignoring our impacts upon global warming. In a region known for our leadership efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, this plan will actually boost harmful carbon emissions. [Emphasis added.]'

On this latter claim, I think that Executive Sims could well be correct."

To be clear I'm not calling you a straw man but it is a specious argument to say that opponents don't want to do anything not to mention that it isn't even true that doing nothing is worse for GW.

Bax are you saying that developments being built are as dense as Seattle meaning the area where the houses are as dense not counting surrounding land - so it would be like saying the apartments being built in Seattle are the same density as NYC.

Posted by whatever | October 7, 2007 8:35 AM

Bax are you saying that developments being built are as dense as Seattle meaning the area where the houses are as dense not counting surrounding land - so it would be like saying the apartments being built in Seattle are the same density as NYC.

Um, no. You guys are saying that these road projects are going to cause or increase sprawl. Sprawl happened decades ago. The development that is going on now in the suburbs cannot be considered sprawl. It's too dense for that.

What I'm saying is that these road projects will not cause sprawl, because by law you can't build sprawl any more within the urban growth boundary. It's dishonest to claim that expanding roads within the urban growth boundary will create more sprawl. It shows an ignorance of the development that's now taking place. It shows that people aren't getting out of Seattle, and know nothing of the areas they're talking about.

Posted by Bax | October 7, 2007 8:57 AM

Bax are you saying that making it easier to get further away from employment centers will not induce sprawl because our growth management controls are so strict that no more sprawl can occur?

Posted by whatever | October 7, 2007 9:57 AM

I'm not sure if this is what Bax meant, but it's definitely a national trend to build denser, walkable neighborhoods close to urban centers. Urban infill is also quite popular.

Look at Bel-Red, the urban infill going in around Northgate, Port Gardner wharf Project in Everett, Lynnwood's downtown redevelopment, Port Quendall/The Landing/Barbee Mill/Southport going in at Renton, have you BEEN to Bellevue lately?

These are the types of trends that are happening. People want to live in real neighborhoods where they can walk to amenities and get to work easily. Combine that with the rising cost of oil, a national awareness about global warming, a citzenry that cares, an urban growth boundary, and developers that have already figured out how to make money off of it... it doesn't seem likely that we will see much sprawl if any.

This is a case of the existing built environment influencing the transportation structure, not the other way around.

Posted by Cale | October 7, 2007 10:46 AM

I am voting YES! I am sick of arguing and want more money for transit AND roads. Sorry.

Posted by Registered Voter | October 7, 2007 11:00 AM


Whoops, you're right. I didn't link to the correct article for that argument.

I did read an article somewhere that mentioned a study that said that RTID would be better than doing nothing, but I can't seem to find it right now. I apologize if I am remembering it wrong.

Regardless, the studies are overly simplistic and don't take into account many of the possibilities of the package such as: support for higher density development (an already popular trend), congestion pricing/tolls, or the impact of green technology in the next 20-50 years.

No transit package will ever reduce global warming by 80%.

Considerations for global warming will be made in the realization of the projects. Vote for roads and transit, because that's what we need.

Posted by Cale | October 7, 2007 11:36 AM

*clarification - better than doing nothing in regards to carbon emissions

Posted by Cale | October 7, 2007 11:38 AM

Fnarf says it best: the perfect is the enemy of the good. Build here or they'll build more highways in Pasco.

Every legislator at the state level outside Seattle sees this as a referendum on Sound Transit, not on roads. If Prop 1 fails, they'll have more ammunition to ensure we never have a regional rail system.

And by the way, without a regional rail system as a reasonable alternative, we'll expand highways forever. Once people have a reasonable alternative, we can look at congestion pricing, etc., to keep freight moving while limiting carbon emissions.

Posted by Steve | October 7, 2007 11:48 AM

So many of the comments are just excuses, which fall into a few categories

"We need to do something about transportation"

Actually, we need to do something about global warming

"Nothing we do will make a difference on global warming."

False, and defeatist. Transportation is the single largest source of emissions in our region, and we can make a difference.

"The Sierra Club should have worked the issue earlier"

They did, but even if true, that justifies making global warming worse?

"The economy will tank"

Yeah, just like passing the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, Acid Rain controls, and Wilderness acts caused the economy to tank. Efficient non-polluting use of resources is good for the economy

"But, people really need to drive."

Building more highways locks them into that problem. How has this highway thing been working out for us? Pollution, sprawl, global warming and congestion. We can do better.

"But, there is no other plan"

Of course there are other plans. See Ron Sims congestion pricing plan, which keeps the highways flowing, pays for maintenance, funds transit, and reduces emissions, all without spending billions on new highway lanes.

"Yeah, but no one will ever do that"

Not if we keep making excuses on global warming, and vote yes for regressive taxes to build highways to make global warming worse.

Vote no and demand a better plan. If not for the polar bears, how about for our kids?

Posted by rtidstinks | October 7, 2007 2:51 PM

Bax are you saying that making it easier to get further away from employment centers will not induce sprawl because our growth management controls are so strict that no more sprawl can occur?

I believe so, yeah. The GMA says that you have to have 4 houses per acre in the urban area. That's not sprawl. That's dense. And all of these projects proposed by the RTID are going to be in the urban area. If it causes more development to go in, it's not going to be sprawling development -- it's going to be dense, urban development.

Again, get out of Seattle sometime. Take a look at the development that's going on in the rest of the region. It's not sprawl. It's dense.

Posted by Bax | October 7, 2007 3:26 PM


""Nothing we do will make a difference on global warming."

False, and defeatist. Transportation is the single largest source of emissions in our region, and we can make a difference."

I agree, but by not accomodating our current traffic, we will accomplish very little.

If we want to show support for reducing global warming, we should be putting money where real change is happening- green technology.

I would support congestion pricing in addition to this measure to pay for maintenance, repairs, and to reduce unnecessary trips. However, there is no way it would make any meaningful impact on emissions reductions without a green alternative like rail.

Let's not forget the plan includes light rail, planning for more light rail from Ballard to Burien, including West Seattle, from Burien to Renton, the BNSF corridor, along I-90 to Issaquah, and eventually extended to Everett. Everett is even thinking about building a streetcar system of their own.

Light rail is the real winner here. Let's get this comprehensive system started: start out with some extra roads to reduce congestion on current freeways in developed areas, once ST2 is done we'll get congestion pricing in place, and then go to work on ST3.

In the mean time, research on green technology for cars will go far, developersborhoods, and all the while we'll continue to keep a watchful eye to make sure the funds are spent to be as environmentally friendly as possible and will be spent help to enhance the quality of life for this beautiful region.

I think my kids will see nothing wrong with that plan.

Vote yes.

Posted by Cale | October 7, 2007 4:10 PM

Bax @15 and 32: Yes, I have driven the length of 405. I used to have a car; now I use Flexcar when I need one.

Posted by ECB | October 7, 2007 6:04 PM


Did you look at the ULI report I posted above?

You can't get to 80% emission reductions by 2050 by relying on clean cars or clean fuels alone. You also have to address vehicle miles traveled. Right now, the projected increase in vehicle miles traveled swamps projected efficiency gains.

In response to another post, 4 units per acre is not particularly dense. That is below the threshold to support transit. Or to create enough demand for retail within walking distance. 4 units per acre will be auto dependent. Also, the new highways will ease commutes to areas outside the urban growth boundary, encouraging development there as well.

Posted by rtidstinks | October 7, 2007 6:56 PM


""But, there is no other plan"

Of course there are other plans. See Ron Sims congestion pricing plan, which keeps the highways flowing, pays for maintenance, funds transit, and reduces emissions, all without spending billions on new highway lanes."

OK, in places where congestion pricing has already been implemented, it has been successful at bringing a 10%-20% decrease in CO2 emissions. This has been in places with excellent mass transit systems.

I think this system would work well in Seattle, especially if we had light rail in place. It would really give our environment a boost.

However, our freeways will still get congested in the next 30 years as our population nearly doubles. We need to start breaking these bottlenecks now to ensure traffic moves smoothly.

RTID+ST2+Congestion Pricing is a fantastic option. We'd have lots of light rail, fast moving freeways, 10-20% decrease in transporation sector CO2, and more decreases on the way as green technology and denser development start to take root.

However, I'm not waiting for the voters to learn the benefits of congestion pricing before getting started on light rail and highway improvements. Let's get this thing moving NOW and then get congestion pricing in place when the population has learned about it.

The sightline study shows congestion/emissions getting better in the short term, and certainly RTID's own Blueprint for progress does, so let's use that short term to educate people about congestion pricing, and then get it implemented as soon as is politically feasible.


Vote yes on RTID/ST2 now!

Posted by Cale | October 7, 2007 8:43 PM

Sandeep is either deluded or relaying the thoughts of someone who is deluded.

Voting this package down is political suicide for funding of ANY expansion of Link to the Eastside, and maybe even funding of any expansion of it period... no matter what transit diehards or any political pundits want you to think.

Public perception is everything, and if the package gets voted down, enemies of light rail and similar interests will paint the vote-down as a defeat of light rail ANY time Ron Sims or anyone else tries to present a new package for a vote. Good luck getting King County to vote in funding for a Link expansion after that.

Also, not this year or next, Sandeep? Really? When are we going to see an actual Plan B package, 2017? Will I be eligible for social security once Link actually goes through Bellevue? Is it seriously going to take that long for everyone to get their shit together and compose a follow up plan?

World class city my ass.

So go ahead and kill light rail dead in November, people. Have a ball.

Posted by Gomez | October 7, 2007 11:03 PM


Cale, you've got to be putting us on. You support spending $47 billion for a plan that under the best of circumstances (i.e., none of the new highway plans get built)achieves a 1% reduction in car use, then turn around and criticize one (Sims' congestion pricing)that would cut CO2 by 20% and cost taxpayers virtually nothing?

How much will it cost to achieve that other 79% in gg reductions under your terms? (I'm not even going to bother multiplying $47 billion times 79). I'm not tripling my car tabs for this BS, and I find it ironic that people say it's the Sierra Club who want to put the screwing to poor people.

Posted by Loewyputian | October 8, 2007 12:40 AM

It makes no sense to say how popular LR is and how the roads could never pass without transit attached to it and yet say that if it loses there is no chance for LR after this vote. I would vote for a shorter time frame tax to build out to Northgate. They don't even plan to get there before 2018. A fifty year tax at this time of transition for one technology does not seem prudent.

Posted by whatever | October 8, 2007 7:30 AM

I just arrived back last night from a week in a "world class city": London. I also have spent a lot of time there previously. While London is much larger (10 million metro area vs 3+ million) there are some things I want to note:

1) The buses are clean. Every single one of them that I rode over the course of a week. I had a tuxedo function on Thursday night and others from the same function rode the bus and the Tube. It's a rare Metro bus that doesn't smell, isn't packed or your safety isn't a concern in the city. The buses on major routes run 6-15 minutes a day, every day. You don't need a schedule because you know it will be along in short course.

2) Speaking of the tube, while congested, it still is the quickest way to get around. Our light rail plan outside of the inner core doesn't plan for extensive stations to encourage people to use it.

2) You really want to force the issue of getting people going downtown on transit: Congestion charge. Central London's surface streets are still clogged, but its clogged by transit primarily. It's also much better than it was 10 years ago. But in order to have a congestion charge you have to provide ways to have get people downtown and move them around downtown.

3) People ride trains from the "outer suburbs" to the inner city then transfer usually pretty easily to the inner city subway/train system. It's fairly effective and I see nothing for that to occur. There's nothing that says we can have more than one train station downtown (to alleviate clogging at union station) to provide for that. Have a station up at South Lake Union. Convert a couple of the express lanes for trains to use over Lake Union. World class cities have more than one train station. Then run a network north and south with feeders coming into the city.

4) Transport for London is a comprehensive agency. They oversee transport, roads, taxis, buses. It's not perfect, but it ties all of this together. I'm tired of everyone saying "it can't be done". It can be. Maybe it should even be a state or regional agency. Kitsap, Skagit and Thurston counties should be a part of the regional transportation mix. They're not.

5) We have to push our federal legislators to do more in the way of transportation. They've been lazy in this department, with Patty Murray the worst offender in my opinion. The interstate road works were built under the auspices of "defense" back in the 50's, 60's and 70's. We can dump a couple of hundred billion into Iraq, but everyone gets squeezed on transport (and other domestic dollars). The Democrats need to have a spine here and begin to lay out a comprehensive policy regarding the nation's infrastructure for the next 20 years. Any of our federal legislators could at least begin the debate. I doubt any of them have the smarts or the balls to do so.

6) Finally, I'm tired of hearing that "fairness" (ie roads in the burbs, some transit in the inner burbs/city) is a good package for the region. We should be driving up the density of the inner city (read most of Seattle) to get people out of their cars. This means that public transport must be clean, safe and convenient. I don't see that in this plan and when you consider you leave and entire portion of the city (Hello Ballard and West Seattle) out of the mix for getting anything for the next 20 years plus the plan really sucks. BTW, BRT doesn't work if you don't separate right of ways for the buses to maneuver. That certainly isn't in the plan far as I can see.

I haven't decided which way I'm voting yet. Seattle's "process" driven methodology has crippled this city now for 40 years and it is killing us in the realm of transportation. On the other hand, it's a start and can be modified later. We need leadership on all levels to say lets move forward. I can't name a single person in this process who I think is a leader. Archtypical to prove this point is Ron Sims. Spends years putting stuff together and being actively involved- a person who could make some changes and show some leadership. Instead, he spends years being a key player then pisses on the fire when he basically says scrap it. He's not the only one- the gamut runs from City Council to the governor to the federal legislators. I'm TIRED of hearing how it CAN'T be done and want to see leadership of how it CAN be.

You make transit quick, efficient, safe and clean for the inner city. Make it so people in the inner city and visitors to it don't need a car to get around. You get people in the outer suburbs to use their cars on a more limited basis with the mindset being if they come to the city they drive to a place where they can also get on transit that is quick, efficient, safe and clean to get to the inner city, Bellevue and other points. It's only then you'll see the beginnings of a world class city beginning to emerge. And don't tell me it can't be done- look at Portland, look at Vancouver. They've started their systems long before us and it's starting to pay off.

Posted by Dave Coffman | October 8, 2007 8:29 AM


I support congestion pricing!

But it cost users... alot.

In London, it costs 8 pounds to drive in the city every day. That's $16 USD. Every day. In Seattle, it would probably be closer to $8, but still, that's every single day you need to commute.

If that's not a regressive tax for poor people who have long commutes on smelly busses on crowded roads with tons of transfers to look foward to, I don't know what is.

We need rail first.

And also, #70, best case scenario is that the Crossbase Highway is elminated. I'm fine with the rest.

I mostly agree with the TCC-

"85% of the package goes to light rail, commuter rail, bus service, and ferry projects. It improves mobility for buses (direct access ramps, HOV lanes) and freight (SR 167 in Tacoma) or essential safety and maintenance projects (520 bridge, South Park bridge)."

However, in contrast with the TCC, I am fine with the the new lanes on I-405, simply because the eastside is full of road warriors who will build that thing if it's the last thing they do. Not to mention it will relieve congestion in the short term. If building that means they help to pay for all the projects I listed above, then I'm fine with it.

Posted by Cale | October 8, 2007 9:31 AM


Tolls are not nearly as regressive as a tax that punishes everyone for highways, even if those people have made a decision to pay a higher rent or mortgage to live near their job and don't use the highways. How can you expect anyone -- rich or poor -- to make environmentally responsible decisions when you send market signals like that? And if rail is so important, (I agree), why not tap tolls ASAP to fund a lot more of it? If we strap residents with a huge tax this year, they aren't going to want to hear about tolling for a long time.

Posted by K-Full | October 8, 2007 10:10 AM

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