Clarification: The funds for R8A have been taken out of the 2009 budget and moved into a far future budget. Ben in this post is discussing the removal of the funds from the 2009 budget.

R8A still does not have enough funding to be completed. This state project is necessary for light rail on the Eastside to open on schedule. Adding two-way HOV across I-90 will also immediately boost the speed of buses during rush hour. We implore Representatives Eddy and Clibborn to move money for I-90 Two-Way HOV Stages 2 and 3 back to the original funding time line.

Original post: Let’s have a close look at that economic stimulus bill from the state legislature, shall we?

Looks like it passed, great, that means money for all sorts of projects…

Wait just a minute. What’s that amendment (PDF)? It’s from Representative Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), whose constituents voted for light rail over the I-90 bridge?

Oh, I see, it screws over light rail across I-90. Again. From section 304:

11 (3) Within the amounts provided in this section, (($1,895,000))
12 $11,363 of the transportation partnership account–state appropriation,
13 (($2,147,000)) $505,099 of the motor vehicle account–federal
14 appropriation, and (($10,331,000)) $11,031,179 of the transportation
15 2003 account (nickel account)–state appropriation are for project
16 109040T as identified in the LEAP transportation document referenced in
17 subsection (1) of this section: I-90/Two Way Transit-Transit and HOV
18 Improvements – Stage 1.

She doesn’t miss a beat. Apparently, for her, the interests of a few rich folks who have whispered in her ear overwhelms the interests of the majority of her district. That’s right, $2,825,359 suddenly gone from I-90 Two Way Transit and HOV improvements, or “R8A” – the one state project we’re dependent on to build East Link.

In fact, we’re ending up with almost $700,000 less than we had before the federal stimulus money.

Thanks, Judy! We appreciate that you’ve been bought and paid for by a few rich constituents – using the express lanes as single occupancy Mercedes lanes into the city is a great use of our infrastructure. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were replaced with a legislator who actually represented the district you’re supposed to represent, instead of taking money away from projects that help your constitutents? I wonder what, say, the Bellevue Downtown Association thinks of this?

And people blame Seattle for not being able to get anything done. Whenever we do, the state kneecaps us.

71 Replies to “Clarification: Judy Clibborn’s Dirty Fingerprints”

  1. Just going to have to fight a little harder. Too bad Senator Kline can’t do anything about it. East LINK would have had one station in his district(or is I-90 at Ranier Ave in Murray’s District, I am not sure). See if he could cut something off for Mercer Island.

    I can see ST2 opponents thinking there needs to be a re-vote. Wait. I keep forgetting, voters don’t count, and that seems to go for politicians no matter what party, and for initiative proponents who siphon off campaign donations for personal use.

    1. I-90 and Rainier is in the 37th, yes.
      Are you down there? It would be great if you could point this out to Kline.

  2. What sort of move is this? We’re spending billions on this dang light rail thing to improve our regions mobility and she throws a wrench right into the gears just so a few wealthy Mercer Islanders can skip the ’90 main lines which, heaven forbid, contains us simpletons. That lady is one slippery bugger. Vote her out!

    1. Recall elections in this state are hard to do. A judge has to approve the request, there can be an appeal, then 180 day period for signature gathering, and then the voters can get rid of the person.

      As for the Urban/Suburban/Exurban/Rural divide, anybody catch Anderson Cooper on Tuesday? He showed the fight going on in Missouri. A bridge already being worked on in rural Osage County, while St. Louis has to wait in line. I guess it’s bad to be a big city. Wonder if this is happening in New York as well? As for St. Louis, they have some of the same priorities in Bridge improvements as us, seismic stability. The 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes, worse than San Francisco, the only saving grace, was the area was sparsely populated. Operative word, WAS.

      1. From what I gather the rest of New York State regularly screws the New York Metro area and the city in particular.

    2. Sad as it may seem Rep Clibborn is much better than the troglodyte she replaced.

      Remember that in most suburban districts, sending Democrats to Olympia is a relatively recent thing. At least the Democrats don’t see transit as part of the creeping red menace that will lead to water fluoridation, collective farms, and abolishing private property. Rather than reacting with a jerk of the knee every time a politician out in the ‘burbs does something we don’t like we should take the time to educate them.

      1. No, she’s not better.

        Do you happen to read Freakonomics? There’s a great one on how hybrids not only cause more driving because of their reduction in fuel use, but also then more pavement and more sprawl. But worse, because people feel like they’re ‘good enough’, they use them as an excuse not to make other environmentally friendly changes in their life.

        “Democrats” like Clibborn are similar. They make us feel like they’re better, but their votes are only very slightly different than the Republicans they replace – and worse, it’s ten times as difficult to get someone more progressive in the seat.

  3. At least with Jim Horn we knew what we were dealing with. Clibborn sucks up to progressive constituencies to justify the D next to her name. But, that D was chosen for political expediency. Nothing else.

    Clibborn knows the msm won’t cover her hijinx. I’m in Maui right now; and thanks to the blogosphere, I am more tuned in to these disingenuous political moves than ever!

  4. I have a friend on the MI city council who’s strong on State transportation planning. I email this link to him to day to get his take.


  5. [sarcasm]:::contemplates moving to Mercer Island and running for Senate – I would restore East Link/I-90 2-way HOV funding:::[/sarcasm]

  6. Hate to ruin your day, but Clibborn never does anything without Chopp’s approval.

    1. You’re not ruining my day, I’m well aware. But there’s no record of Chopp’s approval, and there is a record of Clibborn screwing her constituents.

  7. Gee, with this and the typical hold-ups against the 520 bridge, guess Microsoft will just have to move to Seattle after a few years, oh darn :(

      1. All it would take would be some very direct contact between Microsoft, the City of Seattle, the Clise family and Paul Allen to get the ball rolling. While they’ve spent tons on building more office space, all that could be recuped over the range of a decade or so with tax breaks and savings on employee transit and contracting.

        Their business would be absolutely devestated if East Link weren’t built and something were to happen to the 520 bridge. As we speak, it looks like both are in the cards.

      2. Would this really stop Eastlink from being built? Yes it would definatly stop (or masivly delay) the connection of Eastlink to Central Link, but would Eastlink be able to survive as an isolated system if it were built out from the South Bellevue P&R to MS/Redmond?
        If it were built from South Bellevue P&R to Redmond, could it use a dedicated interim bus loop to connect the two systems (from the South Bellevue P&R to the Stadium station.
        Can someone point to a link that shows the location (and routing) of these improvments that are being cut?

        Lor Scara

      3. Not building the crossing would cut into ridership, time savings and cost-effectiveness, basically turning it into an albatross. If they can’t figure out how to get it going, it’s cooked.

      4. If it becomes apparent soon that I-90 isn’t going to work for Link then maybe someone will take seriously the idea of building the new SR520 bridge with rail connections to University Station. A new 520 could come on line in the same timeframe they’re talking about for East Link. It would make a lot more sense to build a bridge from scratch with rail as an integral part than jury rig something on a bridge that will have already been in service for half of it’s design life. Sinking bridges only last half as long as real bridges anyway so if you’re going to recoup the investment you’d be better starting out with a possibility of lasting half a century rather than a couple of decades.

      5. Given the 520 option
        you would be writting off the Raineer station and the Mercer Island station, all other planed Eastside stations would still fit the alignment. The next question is how do you run Eastlink across 520 while still hitting all of the other proposed stations? Would you want to run two seperate Eastside sub segments UW-Bellevue and UW-Overlake? would it be better to run Bellevue-overlake, with a 2/3 station connector line crossing 520?
        How much of a black eye would this change give ST, would ST be able to share some of this Black Eye with the responsiable politicians?

        Lor Scara

      6. Okay, stop. This is a dead end.

        First, there’s no plan for an eastside base in ST2. So I don’t know how you’re going to put trains on the orphaned line.

        And the vast majority of the ridership is cross-lake, via Bellevue Transit Center transfers and high density Bellevue residential.

        There is no 520 option. I think we’ve been over this before – there’s no way to serve both downtown Bellevue and Microsoft with reasonable service levels. East Link will likely have a train every 9 minutes at first, on par with bus service today. What are you going to do, split that to a train every 18 minutes for MS and one every 18 minutes for Bellevue? It doesn’t pencil.

        I-90 works for Link. The state legislature may just delay East Link. That will be their funeral, as North Link and South Link come online and the eastside continues to be isolated by congested bridge traffic.

      7. I-90 was designed for Light Rail and could take it easily. Plus that routing works much better logistically with the commute patterns and the DSTT.

        Puttin LR on SR520 has none of the advantages that I-90 has, and would delay Link even more while the state tries to sort out the bridge replacement project.

        I-90 is the route — Clibborn is the obstacle.

      8. If they do ever build East Link across MI it will be in service for about 10 years before it’s at the same point we are with SR520 and Hood Canal today. 10 years of construction, billions of dollars and a decade after it’s open we’ll be trying to figure out a replacement. Since it’s land locked between the vehicle lanes they can’t just build a parallel bridge and shift the alignment. And don’t expect the “rail ready” SR520 to be of any use. It’s being planned as a six lane bridge with no possibility of restriping to add lanes. Trying to add rail would leave one general purpose lane each direction or no HOV lanes. So the most direct connection between Bellevue and Redmond to the middle of Central Link can never happen.

        I90 wasn’t designed for rail. That’s why there’s several items identified in the draft EIS that need to be worked out. All things that have never been tested anywhere in the world. Sinking bridges have a dismal record. Hood Canal lasted only 18 years before sinking; so much for that 50-70 year design life. Since they only rebuilt half of it they now have to close it to replace the other half this summer (it’s 48 years old). And now that we’re on a odd even cycle the bridge will end up being closed again in 20-25 years to replace the west end, again.

      9. Bernie.

        I-90 was designed for rail.

        Here’s the expert review panel’s report on rail over 90:

        And the issue resolution report:

        Of course there are things that need to be worked out – that’s the case with any project. But the state government’s panel says they can be worked out, and that panel was created to kill rail over I-90.

        We’re connecting with I-90 because those express lanes connect with Central Link, and because it’s much more efficient to dump in eastside commuters from the south than the north, where they’d have to switch trains. I’ve written about this on the blog before.

      10. I believe the North span of the I-90 bridge is expected to have a longer design life than either the current 520 or Hood Canal. For that matter the original design for I-90 re-used the pontoons from the original Mercer Island Floating bridge for the South span. At the time those pontoons were 50 years old. The only reason they sank is the contractor filled them full of water and punched holes in them just above the water line.

        Proper maintenance will go a long way to ensuring the I-90 bridge doesn’t need to be replaced in another 30 years.

      11. I-90 wasn’t designed for rail, it was planned for rail. There is a big difference. Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say it was planned for high capacity transit. It has been awhile since I read the MOA.

        If it were designed for rail, ST wouldn’t have to design and test an expansion joint that will work with rail. And they probably wouldn’t have to figure out how to attach the rail and OCS poles without touching any of the steel in the concrete of the bridge deck.

        I’ll also point out that it can be hard to get civil engineers to tell you something isn’t possible. If you’re willing to spend a lot of money, a lot of time, and/or accept a lot of risk just about anything is possible. I’m not saying rail on the existing I-90 bridge is impossible, but I do think it isn’t a slam dunk. There are some big technical challenges here. I the engineers working for ST are successful.

  8. That comment about Chopp being the Clibborn puppet master is spot-on. He is TERRIBLE on transit issues.

    When I moved here from PDX a couple years back, I was amazed to discover how city Democrats could be progressive on every issue, except transportation. Frank Chopp is the walking embodiment of this political curiosity. Apparently, the disadvantaged folks Chopp concerns himself with are all supposed to own and drive their own cars. Everywhere.

    1. It’ll change as people use Link later this year and next year. Public opinion will force those dinosaurs to get a clue.

    2. Actually I think Chopp favors not “wasting” money on rail and just adding more bus service hours. This is unfortunately a common view among some ultra-progressive types particularly those who see themselves as champions of the disadvantaged. Los Angeles has an anti-rail/pro-bus group that draws most of its support from ultra-progressives and minority communities.

      For these types of people rail transit is seen as a “yuppie amenity” that “doesn’t serve the poor or minority communities”. That rail tends to draw TOD around stations just adds fuel to their fire as it also becomes a “tool of gentrification”.

      1. Difference between LA and Seattle: LA was forced to rob bus funds to pay for rail. Here, we have firewalls to prevent this kind of thing.

  9. Is there any way this can get some sort of media coverage? At the very least, a few letters should be written to the Mercer Island Reporter by people in the 41st.

  10. Why just people in the 41st? Anyone should be able to at least point out the poll numbers. After all, it does affect the whole region. If you can’t write the Reporter at least write the Times or P-I. And anyone should be able to send information on this to Clibborn’s primary AND general election challengers.

  11. Excellent reporting.
    Thank you for your diligence.
    Maybe we don’t really need the print media after all!

  12. Clibborn is being a regional road block simply to protect an unwarranted benefit that some of her constituents currently enjoy. This is a good example of what is wrong with our current political system.

    However, I say work with Seattle, Bellevue and ST (and maybe the Feds) to accelerate the schedule for getting East Link built at least as far as the Bellevue TC. This would be a good thing generally, but it should also box Clibborn in a bit and demonstrate that she is both isolated and a road block.

    If she doesn’t respond to that, then propose that Reversible Lane conversion start on the accelerated East Link schedule even if the HOV part of R8A lags because of Clibborn. She will change her tune then.

    Besides, bi-directional, full time HOV lanes are actually a benefit to MI, not a detriment.

    1. Of course. But she is working with the jerks who shrunk the I-90 project 20 years ago. Without those jackasses it would be a moot point, there would be plenty of space for the train.

    2. The next section of 304 mandates that r8a be complete before Sound Transit gets to use those lanes.

  13. I don’t have a great grasp on state politics… isn’t there anything we can do? Has the Governor signed? Where do we find the list of folks who voted in favor of the amendment so we can ask them WTF?

    The reporting on STB is great and information. You all do awesome work. But one of the ways you could really help us to make a difference would be providing templates for letters of approval/dissatisfaction and links to who we should send those letters instead of just saying “this sucks, someone should vote them out of office.”

    There are obviously a ton of readers on here who are passionate about transit, but not everyone has the time/knowledge to actually do something about all the little issues that make up the bigger transit picture.

    Again, keep up the great work.

  14. Okay, so I asked Transportation Committee finanical staff what this was all about. Certainly sounded ominous.

    I am advised that the language in question reflects an accounting change. “We revised the amount for the I-90 two-way transit stage 1 project down by $2.8 M in the 2009 supplemental budget. This is due to project savings in stage 1. These savings are being transferred to the budget item for stages 2 & 3 of the project. Unfortunately the proviso does not mention this other budget item.”

    She goes on to report that the total budget for stages 2 & 3 is being increased by $3.27 M, beyonjd the $2.8 reduction in ’09 to recognize increased inflation.

    Now, all of you have spent an enormous amount of time and energy trashing a person who is doing a darn good job of representing the entire state. I don’t always agree with her positions and debate her frequently … but you guys continue to have a pretty black-versus-white view of the world.

    This reporting, without benefit of FACTS or ANALYSIS, telling people what’s up based on knee-jerk reactions (and then linked at other places on the web, thus perpetuating the misinformation) will NEVER take the place of the MSM. God help us if we totally lose ’em.

    Rep. Deb Eddy
    From the Floor in Olympia

    1. Rep, you’re absolutely right. Stage 1 is already complete and it looks like there is language in that amendment that gives more money to Stages 2 and 3. (See: Sec. 304 (27), or search for “I-90”.) We apologize for the error. The blog post will be corrected.

      I think it’s fair to say that our cynicism isn’t born in a vacuum, however. Just a few weeks to you I spoke to you on this blog and you said that delaying the Two-way HOV/Two-way Transit was a good thing. I don’t know how you can reach that conclusion even though voters across the region just approved light rail along that corridor. It’s a symptom of a state government in financial crisis, not a sign of smart transportation planning.

      To me, R8A sounds like a big bargaining chip to the state. Taxpayers own that right-of-way, but we’re expected to lease it? R8A is still delayed for far too long and will delay by up to 6 years light rail crossing the water. The legislative process shouldn’t be used to delay important transit expansion that the voters have approved. Voters own I-90 and they own Sound Transit and they except their votes to count for something.

      1. She’s not right. She’s spinning the further reductions in stages 2 and 3 as some kind of ‘addition’. This is from the same amendment, later in section 304.

        (27) (($1,500,000)) $1,928,232 of the motor vehicle
        5 account–federal appropriation ((and $4,908,000)), $2,611,000 of the
        6 transportation partnership account–state appropriation, and $14,682 of
        7 the transportation 2003 account (nickel account)–state appropriation
        8 are provided solely for project 109040Q as identified in the LEAP
        9 transportation document in subsection (1) of this section:
        10 I-90/Two-Way Transit-Transit and HOV Improvements, Stages 2 and 3.

        That’s a further reduction of nearly $2 million from the original budget.

  15. Rep. Eddy,

    Thanks for your clarification. We’ll check this out and prominently publish a retraction if it’s warranted, which is more than I can say for many MSM outlets.

    On transit issues, I’ll stack up our coverage up against any other local news outlet in terms of depth and accuracy. And we do this stuff in our spare time!

    Believe me, it’d be a lot easier to punt the actual reporting to the Times and just do a lot of opinion pieces, but unfortunately we have to go out and contact sources to cover transportation stories the dailies just aren’t interested in.

    As for Rep. Clibborn, she has a long record of opposing Sound Transit and light rail on I-90, so if by “entire state” you mean “light rail opponents”, I agree with you.

    1. I’ll give you some acknowledgement of your points in paragraphs 2 and 3. You do highlight stuff that I’d not have found any other way.

      HOWEVER; To the extent that you guys continue to characterize our attempts to raise issues about the utility of transit, including smart routing of ST’s rails (routing being my major criticism) as being “light rail opponents”, well – that’s never going to fit well with my view of reality. Nor of my view of Rep. Clibborn. Remember, she is charged with STATE responsiblities under the STATE constitution and statutes. So to the extent you keep trying to throw TRANSIT responsiblities her way … well, it’s not within her power.

      We want, as much as any of you, to see an effective transit system where there truly ARE optional ways to get from here to there (and back). It makes me sad that our region, so progressive in so many ways, has not found a way out of this factional approach. I blame our leadership at the city and county level for not doing more to bring us all together.

      Brookings Institute, Bruce Katz, a pretty progressive, liberal voice for metropolitan planning and transit issues, has called us “sclerotic.” So true. So sad. Hope it changes, one of these days …

      1. “To the extent that you guys continue to characterize our attempts to raise issues about the utility of transit, including smart routing of ST’s rails (routing being my major criticism)”

        Rep. Eddy: you continually bash on the light rail alignment across I-90, but never offer up your own opinion on where that alignment should be. We appreciate your candor posting on these blogs – but please: tell us what your own personal vision is for this alignment.

      2. Rep. Eddy, if transit responsibilities aren’t the state’s duty, then why do we continue to hear laments from very intelligent and honorable representatives about why crossing I-90 is a bad idea? Why is the state getting in the way of finishing Eastlink on time? Why are these same smart representatives arguing for the status quo of delaying Eastlink, instead of affirming what their district’s voters approved? If transit is a local issue, then we should support those local decisions at the state level — not ignore them.

      3. Here are some quotes from that Bruce Katz guest editorial, cited by Rep. Eddy:

        “Despite progress by Sound Transit on light rail, the days of multiple competing systems and their redundancies, wasting infrastructure dollars (read taxes), need to end. A coordinated regional transportation strategy is necessary.”

        What are the redundancies? Where is the waste? Why are these criticisms always so generic?

        “Also, the one bidder, price yet-to-be-determined monorail seems a solution in search of a problem. Public dissatisfaction with transportation is understandable. Spending over a billion dollars out of pique on a system with no park-and-rides serving only one of the region’s job centers, albeit downtown, is not.”

        OK, you could have leveled many criticisms at the Monorail Authority in 2005 (which was created by the legislature, and promoted by Rep. Eddy’s Discovery Institute, btw) – but a lack of Park & Ride lots? Talk about a “drive by” opinion! Mr. Katz may be a bright guy, but he sure as heck didn’t know what was going on regarding Pugetopolis transportation. Surely, Rep. Eddy could find a more accurate source to quote from.

      4. Rep. Eddy,

        I appreciate your engagement on this point, but I think that the issues we’re bringing up here are well within the state’s purview, and to turn around and blame local leadership is totally misguided.

        First of all, Rep. Clibborn IS responsible for transit to the extent that the state’s jurisdiction intersects with Sound Transit’s requirement. ST is counting on the $26m for Stage 2 that the state committed to provide. ST is counting on a reasonable, good faith negotiation of the lease rights for the center roadway. As a leader on the transportation commmittee she has significant ability to affect the trajectory of these issues, which are absolutely critical.

        Elected representatives from three counties sit on the Sound Transit Board and voted overwhelmingly to bring ST2 to the ballot. Mayors all along the line support East Link. Voters (particularly in King County districts) overwhelmingly supported East Link with an I-90 routing last fall. The region has decisively committed to building light rail over I-90. There’s nothing “sclerotic” about that.

        What IS sclerotic is the continued reopening of closed decisions by people at the state level, who continue to consider toying with a proven governance model and seek to nickel-and-dime Sound Transit over minor funding commitments that should be a slam dunk for people interested in improving mobility in the corridor.

        If our delegation in Olympia wants to participate in the decision process between the various alignments currently on the table, that’s another issue entirely, and everyone welcomes your input. But to challenge the basic decision to use I-90 would set us back years, and is an affront to the technical and political work that has been done to build a coalition on a very difficult decision.

      5. When you lose at the ballot box, as Rep. Eddy and Clibborn did last November, the next step is always to claim that the rules weren’t fair – and that the rules need to be changed until a favorable outcome is reached. Which is why the push for a change in governance will never go away. Until, of course, light rail construction across I-90 is underway.

        Martin is right: the issue Reps Clibborn and Eddy wish to re-visit has already been settled.

        There isn’t a remaining question as to what alignment light rail should follow across Lake Washington, except in a few politicians’ minds.

      6. Representative Eddy…

        Your view of reality, quite frankly, is that you want to decide where light rail goes based on politics, rather than good planning and engineering principles. You’ve said plenty of times in plenty of forums that you want light rail to go somewhere other than where it’s most cost-effective. Then you go on to claim your idea is better. It’s just like everyone else who has their own personal magic idea for great transit – it doesn’t pan out, you need to let the professionals do it.

        Representative Clibborn isn’t serving the entire state. She’s serving a small set of single occupancy vehicle interests who don’t want to sit in traffic to go to their jobs in Seattle. Well, the majority of her district says they DO want light rail in those lanes, and everything she’s doing has been to stop that.

        The amazing part is that you’d call us ‘factional’ for asking you to stop trying to kill what your voters want. Our leadership in the city and county is not to blame – they came together with the rest of the region to pass a mass transit package. Now you want to kill it because you think it should serve Kirkland. Haven’t we been over this before? I think you just don’t like these facts:

        Smart routing is what we’re doing. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean you get to start throwing around insults of our local leadership.

    2. I emailed Rep. Clibborn this morning after reading Ben’s post. Just got a response back that echoes Rep. Eddy’s:

      The I-90 two-way transit project is a three-stage project. The first stage was completed $2.8 million under budget, so the savings on stage one have been transferred to stages two and three. – Judy Clibborn

      It would have been nice for the proviso to include “this other budget item.”

      1. Here’s the other budget item:

        (27) (($1,500,000)) $1,928,232 of the motor vehicle
        5 account–federal appropriation ((and $4,908,000)), $2,611,000 of the
        6 transportation partnership account–state appropriation, and $14,682 of
        7 the transportation 2003 account (nickel account)–state appropriation
        8 are provided solely for project 109040Q as identified in the LEAP
        9 transportation document in subsection (1) of this section:
        10 I-90/Two-Way Transit-Transit and HOV Improvements, Stages 2 and 3.

        Doesn’t look like they transferred any savings. Another nearly $2 million down for R8A stages 2 and 3. It’s even worse than we thought.

  16. I just would like to see the auto-centrism of our transportation planning quit sacrificing alternatives when money has to be cut. Also, sure Light Rail is being tagged as Seattle-Centric, but Vancouver Democrats, you could have had Light Rail a decade ago, and Spokane County Democrats, you could have had it too. Got the right of way for a line to Liberty Lake, but instead part of it was used for a new couplet in Spokane Valley. Sometimes ideology gets in the way of getting things done. Look at Spokane and CdA(sorry, have a hard time spelling it), every decade they have a chance of getting the obvious done, be one Census Statistical Area, but they turn it down. We got politicians and the mainstream media that love to compare it with other cities, but as has been pointed out, LINK can’t exactly be compared with Portland. The MSM did a great diservice on that issue.

  17. “Now, all of you have spent an enormous amount of time and energy trashing a person who is doing a darn good job of representing the entire state.”

    I would have to respectfully disagree with Rep. Eddy here. Rep. Clibborn is not “representing the entire state” when she works like hell to preserve HOV access for her solo driving MI constituents.

    Rep. Clibborn was not “representing the entire state” when she ran the bill limiting toll collection to 520. In fact, her quotes in the PI two weeks ago indicate exactly how parochial the Chair of the House Transportation Committee can be:
    Given the pending removal of two I-90 bridge lanes for a light rail line, “I heard people say I don’t use the 520 Bridge and you’re taking my bridge and making it have less capacity … and then you’re going to take that money and put it on a bridge that I don’t use,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, who said putting tolls only on the 520 span is an issue of fairness.

    So much for the “big picture.” Rep. Eddy complains about Puget Sound being too chopped up when it comes to transportation leadership – and too prone to provincial turf wars. I see the exact same thing going on in Olympia, with legislators literally trying to claim control over state freeways which pass through their districts.

    1. I would like to call out that key phrase from Rep. Clibborn’s quote: “you’re taking my bridge and making it have less capacity”.

      Whose bridge is that, again?

      This singular quote represents the real negative side to legislative branch / district politics. Rep. Clibborn’s constituents have taken ownership of a facility which was never theirs. The binding agreements – going back to 1976 – specifically call for Mercer Island’s relinquishment of “their” SOV access to HOV lanes which were built to serve THE REGION, THE STATE, and THE NATION.

      I can see why a self-centered Mercer Islander could be so focused on this federally built freebie that they would ignore the reality which exists outside their bubble (including legal reality). But, the job of the Transportation Committee chair should NOT be to mimic these parochial interests, and repeat their complaints in the newspaper. Her job as a lawmaker is to seek out the big picture, and adhere to the laws and binding agreements which have been around for over 30 years.

  18. Wish I could engage in this debate, with sufficient detail. But I can’t.

    We’re in session, will be here late tonight and through Saturday. We’re still trying to get environmental and other good legislation teed up to get moved out of the House before cut-off next week. And then there’s the budget … to say nothing of the tolling bill that will demand much attention.

    I do sincerely appreciate your passion — but have to focus on my job for a while.

    1. I understand you are busy, Rep. Eddy. But, couldn’t you just spare 2 minutes, and indicate your preference for light rail routing?

  19. Jeremy: There is so much good conversation-starter stuff in all of the comments above, it’s really a shame to lose the opportunity to answer a lot of the accusations/questions, etc. and hear back from you. But I really can’t do that!

    I will try to give you a quick description of my preference, but pardon errors, typos, because I’m doing this while listening to bill reports.

    I believe that there is enormous potential in building the N-S light rail — Redmond thru B’vue to connect with the westside LINK at Tukwila — first. I believe that there is enormous potential for new housing, transit-oriented development, a better jobs/housing balance, in this corridor. So much of the B’vue-Seattle BENEFIT is simply building on, increasing the intensity of housing/jobs/etc. that’s already THERE. There’s not as much opportunity to meet our future jobs/housing needs.

    If we are going to ever get housing prices down (other than having the economy tank), improve jobs/housing balance, provide more people w/the opportunity to live/work in urban centers, then I believe there must be a big increase in density in locations served by transit. The potential is THERE in the N-S corridor on the eastside of the lake.

    Unfortunately, “studies” are done that look, for instance, at the BNSF right of way as it now exists. And that routing is found wanting. Well, that’s no surprise, and I didn’t need a consultant to tell me that. PORTIONS of the BNSF right of way may be quite appropriate for light rail. Others, not so much.

    But it doesn’t matter what my preference is, because THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Our regional leadership decided to put all their effort into the ID-B’vue routing. That’s fine; question asked/answered. But I can’t pretend that the routing makes any more sense to me today than it did earlier.

    1. It’s true that it won’t happen any time soon, but I bet some day rail will go north-sound through the eastside, similar to the BNSF eastside route. It may be after we’re all long gone, though.

  20. It doesn’t look to me like Judy Clibborn is deserving of all the criticism she’s getting on the R8A. But if anybody is holding up light rail as approved by voters, we all need to know. The only result of that sort of power play would be to waste a ton of money and delay things, just like the GOP did in the state legislature and the Congress after the 1996 vote.

    I disagree with Rep. Eddy on her assertion that state legislators aren’t somehow accountable for transit, along with running the state highway department. Sound Transit is a creature of the state legislature, as are every other transit agency in the state. State government has a huge stake in transit in all its forms. Transit policy is obviously in the state’s interest. The state legislature’s policies are now being implemented just as designed, now legislators are protesting the policies they created.

    Can we stop the finger pointing blame game and move on? Do something.

    Too often these days, transportation players in the legislature behave like their only job is to run the state highway department. Anybody paying any attention knows that the highway department is actually running them. That’s why the legislature and the Governor spent all the stimulus they had on state highways, even though Congress and Obama intended that it be spent on most any type of transportation, including transit, rail, city and county streets and bridges, ferries and ferry terminals, etc. The state highway department fooled them all. Who could blame them? 1978 was the number on the state stimulus bill that recalled 1970s era state highway department policies – the bill number is a fair reflection on what seems to be the majority view of the people we send to Olympia when it comes to transportation.

    Let’s see whether the legislature does the right thing on the Evergreen Point Bridge. Will they give all that toll money to the state highway department again? Or will they recognize that the state also has a huge interest in transit on the bridge, as an alternative to paying the peak tolls, and to make the whole 6 lane project work?

    That’d be a good subject to focus on over the next few weeks. The way I understand it, without some modest amount of toll money to operate 40 some buses, the 40 buses are dead, and the people who would otherwise be on them will have no other choice than to help clog up everything else.

    1. Yikes! The bill number is simply assigned as a blue sheet arrives for logging into the system. Nothing nefarious there.

      Again: Our multi-modal money is quite limited; most state revenues come from the gas tax, constitutionally limited. Until we have the political will to either impose a “new” financing scheme (e.g., congestion pricing, VMT) or change the constitution, the STATE LEGISLATURE’s role in transit will be limited. We certainly do what we can, but it’s limited, yes.

      The legislature is uniquely UNABLE to impact Sound Transit’s policies. For years now, ST’s board has a legislative strategy that opposes any state action WITHOUT THE ST BOARD’S APPROVAL. (It’s in black and white, and I’ve got the link somewhere.) And they’ve been enormously successful in ensuring that we DON’T do anything that they even SUSPECT might impact them, someday, somehow. And they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff, lobbyists, advertising, to make sure we don’t touch transit. As this board is a creature of the county executive’s appointment philosophy, we are even farther removed from any impact. It’s a bad governance model, but I try not to talk about that anymore. I sincerely appreciate each of the board members, individually. However, I believe that this sort of federated board is easily captured and led by outside forces with goals different than the overall functioning of the transit system.

      There are other ways to mitigate the situation, provide transit on SR520, without diversion of tolling proceeds. There must be NO diversion of toll revenue to any OTHER PURPOSE until we actually PAY FOR THE BRIDGE, including the transit lanes that we so desperately need. Without those additional transit lanes, NOTHING in transit actually works well in this corridor!! SO that’s job number one. YES, we can and will find operating funds other than bridge tolls. We are right now having legislation drafted (Rep Nelson, I believe) that would divert some portion of the ferry proceeds. Rep Hunter and I’ve been discussing this since last spring, in conjunction with city transportation and planning staff on this side of the lake, so there’s no surprise here.

  21. And, oh, by the way: MZ and Ben: Snarkiness does not actually help move the civic discussion forward. The Discovery Institute certainly isn’t mine, by any stretch, although my brief sojourn there gave me valuable research time that I would not otherwise have had. At the old DI officers, on entering, DI offices were to the RIGHT. You turned LEFT to access the Cascadia transportation offices. I thought that was really symbolic.

    Many of us in the legislature are as pro-transit as you are. We may not be as passionately pro-Sound-Transit-in-its-current-form as you guys, but I think this debate is about how we get MORE usable transit FASTER.

  22. Now we know the problem: Use of some toll money to help support transit operations is viewed as a “diversion” of toll revenues. Only in a state highway department controlled legislature would anyone frame the policy that way. The message: the state legislature only cares about the state highway and could care less about how it operates. People have blinders on.

    Everybody knows how bill numbers are assigned. The luck of the draw on the stimulus bill was 1978, which is pretty symbolic when it comes the the state highway dominance in the bill the legislature passed. Nothing was funded from stimulus money by the state except state highways, yet they could have funded most anything. 1970s era policies on transportation are back.

  23. I am always happy to engage in actual debate/conversation, sharing opinions and perspectives. Martin, Andrew, others … good luck and keep up the good reporting, however narrow. I’ll always answer questions through or And, no, I’m not controlled by the DOT nor is the legislature, generally. Marge, I suspect you know that, too. :-) /deb

  24. rather than wait for WSDOT funds for their share of R8A, how about having ST2 fund it entirely and have WSDOT pay ST back later? Let’s implment R8A as quickly as possible. There is signficant transit advantage to be gained in the reverse peak travel.

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