As the holidays quickly approach so does the 2010 Legislative Session. This year the legislature will be convene for a “short” 60 day session that starts on January 11th. Due to the State’s budget crisis it is expected to be a fast-paced session focused on filling a $2.6 billion (and growing) hole in the state’s operating budget. That said, Transportation Choices Coalition will be working hard on behalf of you everyday to ensure that Washington residents have the choices to take transit, bike, or walk in their community.
Across the State transit agencies continue to face a financial crisis due to declining sales tax revenues. If new sustainable revenue is not identified in the next two years, agencies serving Anacortes to Walla Walla will be forced to make drastic cuts to their service, cuts that will hinder our region’s economic recovery, clog our roads, prevent us from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leave transit riders abandoned on the side of the road.
As the 2010 legislative session approaches Transportation Choices will be working for you in Olympia to educate the legislative leadership on the transit funding crisis. We will be organizing this year to ensure that transit plays a central role in future transportation revenue packages. But we can not do it alone and need your help communicating with legislators about what transit cuts will mean to you and your local community. We will hold our annual transportation advocacy day on January 28th in Olympia and one of our major issues will be transit funding.
Transit Oriented Communities
Following up on last year’s transit oriented communities legislation we will continue to push for a combination of planning measures and incentives that promote transit-oriented development, particularly in rail transit station areas. We are advocating for grant dollars that cities can access for planning, infrastructure upgrades and affordable housing in “high performing station areas.” These high performing station areas are the ones that will make the most of their proximity to light rail and other high-capacity transit investments by zoning for walkable, mixed-use development, with a healthy mix of housing types in their station areas. (For more on these concepts, please see our new report, co-authored with Futurewise and GGLO, Creating Transit-Oriented Communities: A Blueprint for Washington State). Finally, we will also join Futurewise in continuing to push the legislature to require comp plan updates to factor reducing greenhouse gas emissions into future growth management plans.
For many years TCC has been working with our city partners and the public health community to implement complete streets guidelines at the local level. We believe the state could do more to incentivize local governments to adopt complete streets policies, which means designing local roads with all users – including cyclists, pedestrians and transit users – in mind. This year we will attempt to establish the framework for a grant program for complete streets projects in cities to incentivize and reward complete streets programs around the state.
Reprinted with permission from the Nov. 30th TCC Newsletter. See also Erica Barnett’s write-up of TCC’s report in presentation form.