The House Transportation Committee is underway to discuss ST3 authority and the broader transpo package. Watch live here and refresh for our updates and commentary. You may also follow us on Twitter.

6:19 Committee adjourns after nearly 3 hours of nearly unanimously favorable testimony. No committee discussion of the bills.

5:57 Clibborn is cutting off oral testimony at 6…after 2.5 straight hours.

5:56 Kemore mayor very unhappy with the effects of toll-related traffic diversion on SR 522.

5:44 Clark County: “We’re ready to begin a new conversation” about the abandoned CRC project between Vancouver and Portland

5:35 Eastside Transportation Association says Sound Transit shouldn’t get any new authority until they finish all ST2 projects.

5:31 Snohomish County reps appear to have gone all-in on Paine Field. Just about every rep is mentioning it.

5:30 Marysville wants grade separation of rail traffic. That would significantly speed up Cascades.

5:23 “Do you all need to stand up and stretch?” Clibborn: “No, they don’t!” She clearly wants to get through this.

5:20 Michael Shaw from Washington Transit Association “You could say we’re less than enthused with the multimodal investments in this bill”

5:15 Mercer Island City Councilmember Cero: Gas tax is just, and it scales with use.

5:10 100 minutes later, and we’re still just hearing comment from elected, nonprofits, and industry groups. Tons of interest, no actual committee engagement with the bill yet.

5:02 Andrew Austin from TCC: “We need 3 things: full ST3 authority, increased state investment in bike/ped/transit funding, and no poison pill.”

4:56 Dupont council talking grade separation at the JBLM Dupont gate I-5 exit. (STB: This must be done in a way that doesn’t preclude double-tracking the Point Defiance Bypass.)

4:50 Edmonds Mayor Earling now speaking in favor of the Edmonds sub-sea-level rail trench idea.

4:45 Kent Mayor Suzette Cook wants Union Pacific grade separation through the Kent Valley.

4:41 Todd Woosley from the Bellevue Chamber saying that new highway expansion on 405 should be palatable to transit advocates because there’s no GP lane increase.

4:40 Lincoln Vanderveen from the Bellevue Chamber: “Please increase the gas tax.”

4:38 Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace talking up bipartisanship, saying he “proud Republican” and Balducci’s “proud Democrat” cooperation is a model for the legislature

4:37 Bellevue Mayor Balducci: “Few people who live in Bellevue work in Bellevue. We do a huge swap of people every day.” Shows strong support for Bellevue HCT.

4:30 Duke Schaub from the Associated General Contractors of WA actually just used the slogan “Concrete for kids”

4:24 Association of Counties voicing concerns about the dearth of maintenance funding in the Senate bill.

4:22 Kelly Love from Vancouver Chamber now speaking in support. “We’re willing to pay our share.”

4:21 The Seattle Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the package, specifically supports ST3 authority.

4:19 Austin Neilson from the Tri-City Regional Chamber: Tri-Cities anticipate 50% growth in the next few decades, and they want lots of road funding, new interchanges, etc.

4:17 Kristal Fiser from UPS talking freight mobility, intermodal connections, and congestion.

4:15 Kris Johnson from the Association of Washington Business is now speaking in favor of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard poison pill.

4:12 KC Councilmember McDermott: “My constituents want more transit. Nothing less than the $15B will allow us to meet those demands.”

4:10 Redmond Mayor Marchione wants grade separation at SR 520 and NE 40th St in Overlake. Developer saying he can’t redevelop the area without a ramp there. Without it, it would be a purely residential project as opposed to residential/commercial. They want it done in 2018 instead of 2023.

4:05 Mayor Murray: We can’t accommodate the growth we anticipate in Seattle without light rail.

4:03 ST Board Member Roberts: “This is about building the job base we need.” Touts Paine Field as major job center.

4:02: Tacoma Mayor Strickland: “When you get off the plane at SeaTac, you can go to Seattle. You need to be able to go to Tacoma too.”

4:00: Dow speaking now. Praises 520, 405, and direct city/county funding of road maintenance. “It remains critical that the Legislature provide the full $15B funding request. Without it we just can’t get where we need to go.”

3:56: State Treasurer Mcintire: concerned about overuse of gas tax. Wants more tolling, specifically calls out I-90 for tolling.

3:55: Secretary Peterson speaking now: doesn’t say much beyond “everyone working together”.

3:50: Staff asks committee members if they want to ask any questions. Chair Clibborn: “We have a deal not to ask any questions. We’ll go straight to testimony.”

3:47: Staff reminding the committee of the proposed ST3 funding sources: .3% MVET, .5% sales, & 10¢/$1k property tax. If approved, Sound Transit would be banned from receiving state funds.

3:46: Staff report underway. You could have a drinking game using “unless a low carbon policy is adopted” as your prompt. #poisonpill

3:43: Staff report underway now, discussing details of fee modifications etc in ESSB 5987.

3:40: Sen. Liias: “We need you [house cmte] to add in full $15B ST3 authority.”

3:38: Sen. Hobbs: “I urge all of you to compromise and take some pain.”

3:37: Sen. Hobbs wants the House to put Lander overpass in their version of the bill.

3:36: Sen. Hobbs: “This is a $26B package if you count ST3.”

3:34: “There are things in here that each of us don’t like…but sometimes that’s the mark of a good bill.” Sen. Curtis King.”

3:33: Chair Clibborn kicking off the meeting by introducing the gang of four Senators who passed their package. They’ll testify first.

3:31: 90 people are signed up to testify about transpo revenue!…everyone will get 1 minute each. This could take a while. #waleg

36 Replies to “House Transportation Committee Liveblog”

  1. The room looks pretty packed from the Twitter images. Definitely a departure from the nearly-empty room I testified in last month for CT’s Local Option.

  2. “4:10 Redmond Mayor Marchione wants grade separation at SR 520 and NE 40th St in Overlake. Developer saying he can’t redevelop the area without a ramp there. Without it, it would be a purely residential project as opposed to residential/commercial. They want it done in 2018 instead of 2023.”

    Huh? That’s already grade separated. Unless Hizzoner has a different definition of grade separation than I do. And there is a ramp there.

    1. Is he perhaps talking about giving the SR 520 bike path an underpass under NE 40th St? That’d be great and amazing for cyclists, but I haven’t heard anything indicating it was more than a “sure, someday, maybe, if the flying pigs drop us money.”

      And I’ve heard talk about a new ramp to 152nd associated with the Overlake Village redevelopment; that’s the only way I can interpret that.

    2. I think he is referring to widening the ne 40th overpass to add a vehicle lane and bike lane each direction.

  3. ST3 sounds like a done deal to me.

    It does everything that people want (unlike Prop One).

    A plan that expands transit, but in the fashion people want — high speed, quick transport between key regional destinations.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure. The House and Senate need to reconcile the size of the package. They also need to pass a general-fund budget, and deal with McCleary and mental health budgets. There’s still a long way to go before any of that is ready.

    2. Neither high speed nor particularly quick, John. Reliable? Absolutely. Efficient? Very. Good for the environment? Check. Economically sound? Well, usually.

      But Quick? .

    3. What do you consider “high speed, quick”? I thought high speed rail was 90+ mph. Link will match ST Express to Lynnwood, Everett, Bellevue, and Redmond (assuming a nonexistent Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond route rather than a 520 route). But in the south end Link to Kent-Des Moines is estimated at around 45 minutes, Federal Way 55 minutes (compared to 27-37 minutes on the 577), and Tacoma 70-80 minutes (compared to 50-53 minutes on the 590). And the bus times are twice as long as it takes to drive off-peak. This has been a public service announcement to make sure you’re not expecting more than you’re getting.

      1. Right of Way Public Transit that goes above or below the car and truck traffic is relatively high speed compared to what we have in the region with buses.

  4. “Mercer Island City Councilmember Cero: Gas tax is just, and it scales with use.”
    Cero’s point is against I90 tolls, and he proposes to fund the 520 crossing with increased gas taxes instead. Cero has been consistently anti-toll and anti-density, most recently campaigning strongly against the increasing pace of residential development in downtown Mercer Island.
    I90 tolls are the 3rd rail of Mercer Island politics – do not expect anything better than merely-mild anti-toll positions from anyone running for office here. More than once I’ve caused absolute silence in a conversation by suggesting the I90 tolls might be a good idea.Downtown development is a different story, perhaps because it is less of a pocketbook issue.
    Mayor Bruce Bassett and Council member Dan Grausz are leaders in a pragmatically progressive narrow majority that might compromise more than some of us like – for example regarding Park-and-Ride capacity – but still deserve support. The practical alternative, unfortunately, is the “Save Our Suburbs” crowd.

    1. Yeah, that was pretty clear from his testimony that he saw gas tax as preferable as a way to avoid tolls. It was interesting to watch the State Treasurer directly counteract his argument, saying our overreliance on gas tax threatens our financial health, directly calling for I-90 tolling as an alternative.

  5. I think it needs to be made really clear to everybody unless Sound Transit gets the full $15 Billion authority, the Paine Field diversion is probably not going to happen.

  6. 5:44 Clark County: “We’re ready to begin a new conversation” about the abandoned CRC project between Vancouver and Portland

    Rep Liz Pike from Camas is currently promoting a new highway bridge slightly east of the current I-5 bridge. It would “include a concrete six-lane bridge located upstream from the existing structures and would flow in a straight line due south from Mill Plain toward Portland Meadows.” The bridge “would be high enough to allow for clearances at the existing lift span.”

    I really don’t think this proposal will work at all, unless they finally convince Pearson Air Park to close. The runway approaches were one of the main reasons they couldn’t do a high bridge with the original CRC. The runway approaches for Portland International Airport also go through there, but they might be able to get around that one due to the existing bridge towers. Pearson is too close to the proposed bridge route to have a useable runway after construction of such a thing.

    Also, the proposed bridge looks like it would have to cut through the middle of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. I’m not sure how easy that would be to accomplish. At the very least there needs to be a major archeological dig on the site before the bridge pillars get put in.

    In any event, supposedly this would be a cheaper span due to no light rail and no added interchanges, but it really should go through a basic fatal flaw analysis before major amounts of money are dumped into another physically impossible structure.

    1. Glenn,

      Please don’t be so reasonable. Clark County has been commandeered by pro-sprawl folks who hate the regional consensus on thoughtful growth. Fight any suggestion they make, because they genuinely do intend to drive an H-2 through any weakness that Oregon evidences.

      No HCT, no bridge. More GP lanes than now, no bridge. Say it; mean it; and stick by it.

      1. Washington legislators don’t answer to snyone in Oregon, so part of the opposition is going to have to be based on the rest of Washington realizing how bad this new proposal is and fighting to have it adequately vetted before money is wasted on a design the FAA won’t approve.

    2. how does this bridge address the old bridge which is twice the age as the Alaska Way Viaduct. And if it doesn’t appease Portland then it ain’t happening.

  7. For those who missed it on the first go round the video can be found here: http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2015030203

    I’ll post a further comment later after I’ve finished watching, but what does it mean that if the ST3 funding is used that Sound Transit is prohibited from further state funding?

    Is ST getting some kind of state funding right now or is the legislator saying “you can’t come back to us for more taxing authority”?

    I’m really concerned with this language. The state should be spending money on capital projects for public transportation anyway and any additional state funding would be passed in a bill that would presumably explicitly overrule this one. So either it is useless or it is very dire.

    1. Peyton;

      WSDOT gives out some grant money to Sound Transit currently.

      1. Thanks Joe. I’m glad ST gets state grants. ST deserves to get a little extra funding for certain projects.

        I’m really annoyed that the legislator would try and cut off only Sound Transit.

        The transportation bill should be clean and fund ST fully. Hopefully ST will learn that they should to do have a bigger ask then necessary so that next time they have more room to negotiate.

    2. Who’s pushing this “no other state funding” and what is their justification? Do legislators really believe they’re being extraordinarily generous in allowing us to tax ourselves for transit? That, um, really makes us want to support highway packages.`

    3. Further thoughts from last night.

      WashPIRG is awesome, I bet Bruce Speight got some threating glares.

      Phil Kandwilk(I know I spelled that guys last name wrong) threatened an initiative about capital cost accounting, with the theory that ST competing with state would drive up cost and short the motor vehicle fund $2-3 Billion Does anybody know anything about this?

      I don’t see it yet as a certified initiative and since I can’t spell the guys name I don’t know how to track down more information.

      The Washington Labor Council was right on point.

      It was interesting to see the politics in the order. Some people clearly got to sign in earlier then others. Also the oil Industry speaking so early really bugged me. Do they really have that much clout in this state?

  8. The Tri-Cities want’s more highways and interchanges? They have 6 lanes now between Kennewick and Richland – towns the size of Lynnwood and Edmonds. SIX LANES! They used to have 4 lanes and there was congestion for a total of 20 minutes a day. Do these people have any sort of concept of congestion?

    1. If you aren’t used to congestion, then even the smallest amount of it will drive you absolutely crazy. It used to be that in Spokane (as an example) if you got within half a block of the car in front of you they would accuse you of tailgating. Things have gotten a little more rational now, but the perception is still there. Even the smallest amount of supposed congestion is cause for great wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

      As an aside, the State R’s had been pushing to get “congestion relief” added to the goals of WSDOT and as a metric for determining how funding is distributed. Their thought was that transit wouldn’t count as “congestion relief” and therefore those funds could be reallocated to roads.

      Someone then pointed out that by any reasonable metric 95% of the congestion in the State occurs in the PS region. This would imply that 95% of State transpo funding should also be spent in the PS region.

      They pretty much dropped it at that point.

      1. Ya, but Kennewick is surrounded by nothingness and is part of a Metro area of, what, 250,000 people? It’s hardly a blip on the radar.

        Lynnwood is part of a Metro area of about 3.5 million people. As such you would expect the transportation needs of Lynnwood to be much greater and more critical than those of Kennewick.

  9. What does it mean at 3:47 when it is stated that, “Sound Transit would be banned from receiving state funds”

    Whereas I don’t expect State funding, I didn’t realize there was any sort of prohibition on it. Or am I reading it wrong?

    What about funding from the PSRC?

  10. 5:31 Snohomish County reps appear to have gone all-in on Paine Field. Just about every rep is mentioning it.

    That your political discourse is stuck in Company Town Abusive Relationship mode does not magically turn a bad idea into a useful idea.

      1. Presumably discussed behind the scenes, and a united front was agreed upon. The “all eggs in one hostile corporate basket” unsustainable planning this tack exhibits might not even have occurred to them.

  11. I’m disappointed that the 500 pound gorilla employers in this state don’t lobby Olympia for more funding for public transportation with even a little bit of the intensity that they do for their corporate welfare. It’s in their interest to have their employees be able to get to work in a timely fashion with a sound transit infrastructure.

  12. Of course nobody would be opposed: there is something in one or the other bill for both cars and transit! And, it would be heresy to suggest that the transit agencies have a minimum level of transparency and accountability, for we that would indicate that we care about saving thousands of service hour cuts merely via an independent, comprehensive performance audit instead of drastic service cuts and drivers losing their jobs, for the latter propels voters to approve still more taxes. And, their average pay increase was 1% last year, so voters can afford more taxes! There’s also no interest in what these agencies are paying their top brass nor their other spending practices, they don’t even have to share their meetings or their staff reports with us, for that allows a much smaller agency to pay notably higher than the behemoth in the region. This also says that assuring their comfort is more important than getting the maximum service. Fixing duplications in the agencies that could be brought together to make things easier for riders doesn’t get traction around here; having multiple apps, fare policies, and individual agendas to cope with is the rider’s problem. There also is no concern about how much a service that doesn’t offer any new origins or destination costs; more taxpayer money keeps getting shoveled its way.

    Wouldn’t a better tack be to advocate to be the most-popular transit system in North America, like TransLink in Vancouver, where they have one transit agency with one executive team who manages their needs quite well instead of paying the costs for several different fiefdoms like we have in this region?

    1. I agree, unifying our transit agencies would be a good thing. Unfortunately, state law gets in the way and that level of enlightenment is well beyond the grasp of our legislature.

    2. Metro did have an audit a few years ago. And it found it was doing mostly well. It made some recommendations, which Metro has implemented. Some of the recommendations went too far such as cutting out most layover time, which gave the drivers insufficient time to go to the bathroom and made the buses even less reliable.

    3. Before unifying the agencies, one should add up how much duplication there is. It may not be that much. Many corporations have merged claiming it would lead to efficiency gains but it didn’t. Vancouver is different in many different ways, including that the transit agency has full authority to put transit where it’s needed, without local government officials or NIMBYs getting in the way, and without tax-haters preventing it from happening. Vancouver also has transit-friendly land-use policies: highrise density around stations, widespread lowrise density in 2-dimensional areas, and unrestricted ADUs in single-family areas. Merely consolidating the agencies won’t fix all that.

      Also, why is Everett Transit separate from Community Transit, which it could presumably join whenever it wanted to. What about the people who want to reinstate Seattle Transit because they think Metro neglects urban needs.

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