The Seattle PI (again, and again) and the Times have today written more coverage about R8A funding controversy that has only gotten worse in the last few days.

What has begun as a matter of the state’s budget withholding $24 million necessary to build the two-way HOV lanes on the I-90 bridges needed to run light rail along that corridor, has recently escalated to what appears to be nearly outright hostility to the light rail plan that voter’s approved last year. One move we didn’t cover, but deserves mention, is the move to disallow Sound Transit from the state’s competitive Regional Mobility Grants even — one of the few ways that the state actually gives financial support to transit.

Larry Phillips
Larry Phillips

King County Councilman Larry Phillips offered a sharp rebuke of the House budget that is the source of all of the concern. Phillips once again looks impressive on transportation is continuing to illustrate that he’d be a great county executive — a position he’s running for. I’ll quote a piece from reporter Aubrey Cohen:

“I frankly don’t understand what the House transportation folks are doing,” [Phillips] said.

Voters clearly indicated their desire to see light rail soon in Mercer Island and Bellevue, he said. “Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are in the bank, waiting to be deployed.”

The state House transportation budget thwarts the will of voters by blocking Sound Transit’s East Link light-rail plan, according to [Phillips].

“While the people of this region are eager to move forward with building light rail and leave behind the endless debating and delays of the past, legislators continue to throw up roadblocks that thwart the will of voters and delay light rail,” he said, referring to a budgetprovision that stalls construction of rail along the Interstate 90 bridge over Lake Washington.

“Thwart the will of the voters,” absolutely. Well said.

Kudos to the PI and the Times, as well Horse’s Ass and Publicola, for covering this story. And to Mr. Phillips for inserting himself into this very important issue.

15 Replies to “Pressure Mounts on R8A, State Transit Support”

  1. From the Times article:

    Jarrett, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, said to raise money for the new car-pool lanes, the state could charge solo drivers a toll to enter the current express lanes and, later, the new car-pool lanes.

    You know, I wouldn’t really object to that, if it were agreed to this year and the deal included turning the express lanes over to Sound Transit. It also didn’t occur to me until I read the Times article that of these problem legislators Jarret has the useful distinction of being influenceable by virtue of his being in a contested race for County Executive. Does he think he has a shot of winning if he is seen as someone who derailed East Link? Good on Phillips for putting pressure on him over this.

    Now if only we could find credible primary challengers for Chopp and Clibborn.

    1. It’s fake, it’s like podcars. It can’t happen, that’s why he’s pushing it.

      1. What’s fake about it. It sounds like HOT lanes which is what seems to be the most easy to live with solution. However, without tolling all lanes on I90 I don’t think there will be much of a decrease in diverted traffic from SR520. Besides the pressure that’s going to add to I5, I405 and the “cut though” roads the diverted traffic results in a big hit to revenues on SR520. Better than nothing which is what I think a push for tolling all lanes of I90 would end up in.

      2. Hmm… The article gave me more the impression that Fred Jarret was angling to be the guy who pulls off the Grand Compromise that Brings Both Sides Together and Saves East Link (probably while extorting a little money from them, but not the full billion Chopp wants)… you know the type. I may be wrong, but he can’t seriously think he has a shot at County Executive if he’s seen as responsible for killing East Link, right?

        On a side note, has anyone else had the experience of going to comment on this blog and finding that someone else’s name and email address are filled in? Seems like a serious bug to me.

  2. This is true, HOT lanes would be the best option that can be inserted into any HOV lane on a highway and the shortest amount of time. One could also do a jersey barrier and make a semi-permanent East/West HOT lane. I’d totally go for it and besides, I already have a Good-To-Go transponder =)

  3. Ben,
    Why will not I-90 be tolled? Why is it fake? Several seem to favor it: the last state Treasurer, the current state treasurer, the outgoing KC Exec, the Sierra Club, the feds, Professor Hallenback, UW. The Legislature and Governor will probaly come around when they realize that the law of demand can be harnessed to control traffic congestion and raise funds for highway maintenance. All modes will benefit.

    1. The Senator didn’t suggest tolls on I-90, he suggested HOT lanes as opposed to HOV lanes. I think Ben is saying that this suggestion is a distraction from the state failing to live up to its commitment.

      I’m think every blogger here supports tolling on I-90, and tolling in general, as a means to help with congestion and remove subsidies from the system.

    2. I think the “when they realize the lay of demand can be harnessed to control traffic congestion and raise funds for highway maintenance” sentance has a problem. It’s not “when” it’s “if” and the “if” is a huge one.

      If they could realize that, we’d be in a lot better position today.

  4. eddiew is living in a fantasyland when it comes to tolling. Notice how he left Transporation Committee Chair Clibborn (D – I90) of the list of enthusiastic tolling supporters. She’s just a minor speed bump, right?

    Here’s what bugs me most about eddiew’s light rail opponent friends in Olympia: while they do their best to thwart the voters’ will in regard to transit, they’re basically rewarding highway proponents who DIDN’T want their tax dollars going to highways. See, in 2007, there was a different version of Prop 1. Engineered by pavement-loving Democrats, and a couple Republikans. It failed, as we all know.

    But you know where the most no voters lived? Yep. Along the very freeway corridors RTID would have funded – and the same corridors Clibborn and Chopp are protecting and enhancing in the House budget.

    So, now that Clibborn and her pave-at-all-cost friends have passed a budget out of committee which jacks transit supporting voters, this same bunch wants to speed up highway projects even freeway-friendly voters OPPOSED.

    How’s that for getting everything wrong all the time? While these Dinocrats are at it, why not appoint Chopp fan club President Tim Eyman as Secretary of Transportation? Similarly, Judy Clibborn can get that building industry goon Tom McCabe installed as Ecology Department head.

    It’s amazing these clueless legislators can take themselves seriously.

  5. eddiew also ignores the fact there IS no traffic congestion to harness on the reversible I-90 lanes – not if you’re an eastside legislator’s constituent.

    1. Which is exactly why opening them up to SOVs in the form of HOT lanes makes sense. You ease pressure on the general purpose lanes and collect a nice little revenue stream at the same time. It’s almost like a sin tax. It would really make sense to have this operational before they start work on the outer HOV lanes both from an economic and traffic management sense.

  6. In principle I like the idea of HOT lanes because I see it as a first step toward congestion pricing for all lanes.

    However I wonder if the HOT experiment on 167 paid for the infrastructure required and administrative overhead, much less produced anything in the way of a meaningful surplus.

Comments are closed.