On the Senate Democrats’ blog, and presumably on the Seattle Times shortly, Fred Jarrett offers an attempt to blame someone else, somewhere else, a long time ago, for the active attack on Sound Transit we’re seeing today.
It’s barely worth picking apart. He tries to build transit credentials by claiming he helped develop Sound Move. Actually, amusingly, he says Sound Move created Sound Transit in 1996 – he talks about all this ‘hard work’ he did, but missed that Sound Transit was created in 1993, and they put Sound Move on the ballot.
So, let me set the record straight. All this nonsense about RTID and Roads and Transit is a way to distract from the fact that there isn’t money in either the House or Senate budget for R8A, despite the state committing to funding it the year after Roads and Transit failed. If money in transportation is in “short supply”, where’d the increase in viaduct funding from $2.4 billion to $3.14 billion come from? How about the $1.5 billion for Tacoma HOV lanes? Nobody wants to explain why $70 million of the federal stimulus package went to I-405, but the same bill took money out of R8A – when the region voted against funding 405 expansion, and for funding light rail.
He writes: “Sound Transit and the WSDOT have a plan to resolve these issues and meet all of the East Link project milestones.” Is that so? Where is this plan? Or is saying this just a delaying tactic? And RTID would have funded $33 million? Doesn’t Sound Transit’s new increase in funding of $45 million more than cover those lost funds? I’d imagine it does. And this BRT comment from the Senator? The 1976 memorandum of agreement says ‘fixed guideway’, and that’s not BRT.
And as for the Senator’s gas tax comments? He says “How do we deal with the constitutional prohibition on using gas tax funds to construct I-90 for transit?” HOV lanes are a highway project. Stage 1, as the Senator notes, was paid for partially by the state – with gas tax money. HOV projects around the state are routinely paid for with gas taxes. This is nothing new, and the Senator should know that. Then he asks “How do we negotiate waivers with the Federal Highway Administration for the federal funds used to build an interstate for transit purposes?” The federal government funded these lanes with the requirement that they be used for transit purposes.
The state has no stake in the I-90 express lanes past R8A. They were over 90% paid for by the federal government, and there is no legal avenue that justifies the state ‘negotiating’ for any money before giving them up. There are agreements in place that govern these transactions already, as I’ve mentioned before. I’ll be following up on this specifically soon.
It’s not hard to understand these issues – but it is hard to understand how this can be so clear to Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine, and so confusing to Senator Jarrett. The voters came through with a decision and backed it up with funding, and the state thinks this is a bargaining chip. I think all of our readers can see through this op-ed.