After decades of deferred maintenance and neglect that has led to crashes, fires, and in some cases killing its own riders, the DC Metro will soon rip off the band aid with a year of painful closures and single-track operations affecting hundreds of thousands of riders. View the full closure details here. The intensive work will replace infrastructure that in many cases dates back to the first days of the system.
Meanwhile, at Sound Transit’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, Boardmembers were getting their first chance to review the draft ST3 financial plan when CFO Brian McCartan read a new proposed financial policy:
The Board will maintain capital replacement and maintenance reserves and annual budgetary amounts sufficient to fully fund the system in a state of good repair. Sufficient funds will be set aside to fully meet these obligations and their funding will have precedence over other agency expenditures.
Pausing to ask if Boardmembers had any questions, CEO Peter Rogoff turned on his mic. Perhaps mindful of his experiences in DC, he said, “There would be no greater crime that we could do to our children and grandchildren than to not do this.” Dow then chimed in as well: “I’m super excited about this. This is exactly the kind of thing government ought to be doing…We’ve had challenges over the decades with our roads and bridges, with our parents and grandparents investing in infrastructure and then not doing the things needed to maintain it.
Acting WSDOT Secretary Millar – whose agency has come under frequent fire for prioritizing highway expansion over maintenance – agreed, saying “As the manager of legacy assets, I think this asset management is a wonderful idea.” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers was stunned that such policy language was so unprecedented both nationally and locally, saying, “I’m shocked and appalled we have to even adopt such a policy, and that it wasn’t done earlier. We’ve had significant discussions at PSRC regarding the difficulties we’ve had with our highway system by not having such a policy.” So at the committee level at least there was unanimous agreement that such a policy is necessary and prudent.
This is very welcome news, basically codifying Fix It First as official policy. Let’s hope the Board agrees in June, and let’s hope that WSDOT someday follows their lead.