This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Erica Barnett sums up, somewhat inadvertently, the problems with crafting another transportation package:
It was too big and too divisive, and hopefully the people who craft a replacement will have learned their lesson by the next time. (I would prefer, of course, that that lesson be: No more roads expansion; money for neighborhood streets, safety and maintenance; and more money for rail NOW, rather than in 20 years–but that’s just me.) In any case, I think one lesson is definitely that an $18 billion, 50-year package is simply too big to pass–especially when, as with this package, it doesn’t fully fund all the projects it includes, meaning that voters will have to pay tolls or additional taxes to finish major projects like SR-520.
In other words, this package was too big, but it wasn’t big enough! Reminds me of that classic Woody Allen line, “the food was terrible, but the portions were so small!”
Any package that “fully funds” SR-520 would, by definition, have to include even more money for roads, something that Barnett and others seem dead-set against. So where does that leave us?
It should be said, though, that “fully funding” a new 520 bridge was never, and should never have been the point of a regional transportation initiative. 520 is a state road, and it’s ultimately the state’s responsibility. The point of the RTID was simply to have the 3-county region kick in a some extra money to fill in the gap between what the state was willing to pay, what tolling could provide, and what the new bridge will actually cost.
Now the state will have to kick in the rest. But with the current gas tax money on the decline, and I-960 looming overhead, it’s unclear how they’re going to do that.