Roads and Transit

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Roads and Transit [1] was a ballot measure in the U.S. State of Washington concerning transportation, that was sent to voters in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties for approval on November 6, 2007. It was defeated by a margin of 56% to 44%.[2]

In 2006, the Washington State Legislature required Sound Transit and the Regional Transportation Investment District or RTID [3] planning committee to jointly submit to voters a transportation financing plan in the 2007 general election. RTID and Sound Transit began working together on the Roads & Transit plan in June 2006. Along with regional planning and transportation agencies, they conducted years of engineering and design work. They also informed the public and collected public comments through open houses, surveys, letters, meetings and hearings.[4]

Content of the Proposal[edit]

Roads and Transit proposes to expand mass transit and improve roads in the most heavily traveled corridors in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. It is a unified program of investments in highways, light- and commuter-rail, HOV lanes, park-and-ride lots, and express and local bus service.[5]

Working together, Sound Transit and RTID combined two plans in order to create a comprehensive and balanced Roads and Transit package.

Sound Transit's portion of the Roads and Transit package is called ST2. [6] ST2 will extend the Puget Sound region’s light-rail system to 70 miles (110 km), create thousands of new Park and Ride slots, and expand bus and commuter-rail service. [7] The 20-year cost of the package in year-of-expenditure dollars is approximately $24 billion. Financing this cost entails indefinitely extending the present Sound Transit regional sales tax of 4/10th of one percent, and adding another 1/2 of one percent sales tax.

RTID's portion of the Roads and Transit package is called Blueprint for Progress. [8] Blueprint for Progress will invest in Washington State highways, bridges and local roads in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties. The proposed projects seek to ease choke-points and improve safety. The 20-year cost of the package in year-of-expenditure dollars is approximately $14 billion. Financing this cost entails a regional sales tax addition of 1/10 of one percent, and adding $80 per $10,000 valuation on the motor vehicle excise tax, popularly known as a car tabs tax.


People and Organizations Involved[edit]

Supporters[edit]

Supporters of Roads and Transit argue that the package provides a balanced and comprehensive approach to solve the traffic problem in the Puget Sound region. [9] The plan provides commuters with options for when they travel. For instance, it extends the region's light rail system to 70 miles (110 km), which helps lift commuters out of congestion and make the environment cleaner. Additionally, nearly 12,000 park and rides slot will be created. Supporters concerned with the safety of roads have also endorsed the Roads and Transit proposal because it replaces and retrofits overpasses and bridges vulnerable to earthquakes. Moreover, by reducing congestion, first responders and emergency services will be able to move more quickly on roads. By reducing congestion, Roads and Transit plans to help the Puget Sound region's economy, allowing people and goods to move more quickly and reliably. Improving freight mobility will help the region compete in an expanding global economy.

Endorsers[edit]

Organizations that have endorsed the Yes on Roads and Transit proposal include: [10]

Opponents[edit]

King County Executive Ron Sims is the most well-known opponent of the plan. He charged in a Seattle Times op-ed on September 19, 2007 that the plan did too little to deal with the problem of global warming and relied too heavily on a single technology, rail. Prominent in the opposition against the Roads and Transit proposal is Kemper F. Freeman. Freeman is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Kemper Development Company, which owns and operates Bellevue Square. [11] Freeman is also chairman of the First Mutual Bank, and has served as the director of First Mutual Bancshares since 1968. Erica C. Barnett, a writer for The Stranger, wrote an online article on June 11, 2007 that covered a video produced by Freeman. [12] Barnett notes that the video contains "misrepresentations, shaky claims, inconsistencies, and just plain nuttiness." As evidence, she quotes the narrator's voice in the video as follows: "Today, many people attribute much of our success and prosperity as a nation to the automobile and the ability of people to move about freely in commerce and recreation. Others even point to former socialist nations that have failed economically and their overdependence on public transportation, which narrows and sometimes even removes choices of commerce." The Cascade Chapter of the Sierra Club has also declared its opposition to the Roads and Transit proposition because of concerns about the impact of road expansion on global warming. Another declared opponent of Roads and Transit is Phil Talmadge, a Seattle attorney who served earlier as an elected State Supreme Court Justice, and before that as a Democratic State Legislator. One of the newest opponents of Roads and Transit is Eastside Rail Now!, a grassroots movement that is attempting to stop the plan to scrap the Eastside railroad (BNSF Woodinville Subdivision) and is instead advocating its use as the core of a regional commuter rail system.

External links[edit]