It may surprise some readers to know that, over my voting life, I’ve been known to occasionally vote Republican in elections at various levels. I have my own bizarre cocktail of left- and right- wing views, and depending on what itch is being scratched my opinions about each candidate may be shaped without party-line considerations.
Recently, of course, local Republicans have become reactionary anti-rail, anti-transit, anti-density, pro-SOV fanatics, which is something I just can’t accommodate.
However, with our Democratic supermajority in Olympia alternating between total inaction and legislation to maim Sound Transit, and Governor Gregoire appearing to waste time on various transportation megaprojects, there was unusual space for Dino Rossi to have a message encompassing all transportation modes but promising competent execution of all of them, rather than as a pro-car or anti-car ideologue.
So I looked to Dino Rossi’s Transportation Plan with hope and anticipation. I shouldn’t have. This document was first sent to me by a Gregoire operative; when your own campaign literature is being gleefully distributed by the other side, that’s a bad sign.
It’s 21 pages of asphault-pouring goodness. Let’s break it down:
p.5: (his page numbers)
Highways are a state responsibility. It is the obligation of state government to build and maintain statewide road and freeway networks.
Transit, including buses, bus rapid transit and rail, is a critical component of our present and future transportation system.
Transit has always been planned, and managed, at the local level. The state should not meddle in local transit decisions.
Emphasis mine. It’s kind of lukewarm about transit, but not catastrophic. Do no harm: it’s a message that I wish State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-not in the Sound Transit district) would take to heart.
With you so far, Dino!
But wait, what was that on Page 4?
The Rossi plan will dedicate half of the current and future eastside subarea equity Sound Transit surplus to HOV projects on I-405 and S.R. 520. Sound Transit’s accruing eastside subarea surplus should be used for what it was intended – to finance transit related infrastructure on the eastside. This provides approximately $690 million.
Ah, so he is going to meddle in local transit decisions, dictating the mode choices to the local Sound Transit board. This measure, by the way, would wipe out any hope of rail to the Eastside in our working lives.
OK, so he just wants to enhance bus service. I’m a rail guy, but at least he wants better transit!
All the way up to p. 13:
In addition to funding these important highway projects, the Rossi plan will use common sense approaches to improve the flow of traffic and relieve congestion:
• Open HOV lanes to all traffic during non-peak hours.
But won’t that wreck the reliability of bus service? Why, it’s almost as if he wants to divert Sound Transit funds into projects that can also be used by Single Occupancy Vehicles, and doesn’t really care about the transit! Who would have thought!
But at least he doesn’t want to mess with the highly successful Sound Transit governance structure, like many Democrats do!
A Regional Transportation Accountability Board is needed to prioritize, fund and plan projects in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. The incumbent’s own bipartisan Regional Transportation Commission concluded in its report to the legislature in 2006 that the current system was broken.
A Regional Transportation Accountability Board in the Central Puget Sound region would:
• Provide a regional focus to get critical projects completed, instead of local elected officials fighting to get their pet projects done first.
• Integrate planning across various transportation modes, from highways to rail transit to buses, so they work together instead of competing.
• Be directly elected, so its board would be accountable to the people.
Key attributes of a Regional Transportation Accountability Board in Central Puget Sound include:
• Consolidates the transportation functions of the Puget Sound Regional Council with Sound Transit, RTID and local transit agencies.
• Acts as “gatekeeper” for major transportation project decisions across the four counties.
The WSDOT would remain the lead agency for all state highway projects.
Vote Gregoire. Indifference to transit is better than hostility.