We’ve talked about about R8A and other legislature inference plenty over the last few days. It’s time for us to take action. We need to contact leaders in Olympia and tell them what we think:
- The state should fund, as promised, the two-way HOV lane project on I-90 so that light rail can be completed to the Eastside on time. East Link will be delayed for years without this funding.
- Sound Transit should receive funds for the three Regional Mobility grants which it was competitively awarded. ST won these grants because the projects are among the best transportation investments in the state.
- There is no need for a bureaucratic “asset assessment study” for light rail across I-90. A new study could only serve to delay building light rail across a bridge that has already been studied numerous times.
- The region voted overwhelmingly to support this light rail package. The legislature shouldn’t thwart the will of the voters.
Here’s a list of important transportation legislators:
- Rep. Judy Clibborn – Chair of House Transportation Committee: email@example.com
- Rep. Marko Liias – Vice Chair of House Transportation Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rep. Frank Chopp – Speaker of the House: email@example.com
- Senator Mary Haugen – Chair of Senate Transportation Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Senator Chris Marr – Vice Chair of Senate Transportation Committee: email@example.com
- Senator Fred Jarrett – Member of Senate Transportation Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
The email address for your legislators can be found on the state legislature website, or you can use this form to automatically email your legislators based on your address. You can email Governor Gregoire on her website.
After the jump is the letter we’re sending out which reflects the above talking points. Feel free to change the text as you see fit and forward it to the above legislators as well as your own — let them know you’re paying attention.
Dear [Name of Legislator]-
I have been following the House and Senate transportation budgets and have been troubled by the questionable support for transit and particularly light rail to the Eastside. This light rail plan was approved overwhelmingly by voters last November.
As you know, when the Sound Transit board adopted the plan, the state committed to helping fund a portion of the HOV work on I-90 — work which is necessary to put light rail on the current express lanes of I-90. The two-way HOV lane project will also provided more reliable bus service and stronger incentives to carpool along the I-90 corridor. The project will cost the state just $24 million to finish, as the bulk of it is funded by Sound Transit. The current budgets do not fund this project, putting the Eastside connection at risk for massive delay.
The budget should provide the funding needed to complete light rail to the Eastside on schedule.
Additionally, there is no need for additional “studies” or “assessments” or delays for light rail along the I-90 corridor. We have done enough studies and there is no reason to delay this important investment for bureaucratic reasons. Transit infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to create jobs and that growth shouldn’t be subject to arbitrary delay.
WSDOT and Sound Transit should have the flexibility to move forward with light rail to the Eastside.
Finally, it is troubling to read about House’s usurping of a competitive grant process. Their budget strips Sound Transit’s grants from the Regional Mobility Grant program administered by WSDOT. These grants were committed after a competitive process and are necessary investments in Snohomish, Piece, and King counties.
The Senate budget’s complete funding of the the Regional Mobility Grants should be adopted.
While priorities need to be made during tough budget decisions, the state shouldn’t turn its back on transit plans that voters approved just months ago particularly in light of the massive investments made in so-called mega-projects — all of them roads. Sound Transit is facing similar budget issues that the state and most other levels of government are, and they cannot independently fund projects where the state had previously committed funds. Light rail to the Eastside, HOV lanes on I-90, and other transportation investments across the region will be severely delayed without the leadership we’ve come to expect and treasure in Olympia.
Thank you for your time,