The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Left wing Activist opposes Inititiative 912

Initiative 912

This measure would repeal motor vehicle fuel tax increases of 3 cents in 2005 and 2006, 2 cents in 2007, and 1.5 cents per gallon in 2008, enacted in 2005 for transportation purposes.

I recommend a NO vote on Initiative 912.

This fall, we’ve had a lesson in infrastructure investment, or in what happens when you don’t invest in infrastructure. Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed the levees in New Orleans, resulting in catastrophe, but even Hurricane Rita exposed infrastructure difficulties. As Rita spun out in the Gulf, a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on Galveston, many Texans, mindful of what had happened with Katrina, sought to evacuate. So many, in fact, that the roads through and out of Houston were gridlocked.

The only way out for residents in the low-lying areas between Houston and the Gulf, was through roads just barely sufficient for regular, daily traffic.

Hurricanes (or typhoons, as the Pacific equivalents are called) can’t happen here; ocean temperatures are too cold, but the Pacific Northwest is not immune to natural disaster. Were an earthquake to hit Seattle, key elements of the transportation infrastructure would be at risk.

Recognizing this, the Washington state legislature passed a 9.5 cent gas tax for highway projects all across the state, but most notably to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge.

How desperate is the situation for the Alaskan Way Viaduct? It’s an aging elevated double-decker freeway, built on fill with a deteriorating seawall. The freeway design is a similar design as the Cypress structure in Oakland, CA, which collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The design may have been state of the art in the 50’s, when it was built, but the 1971 San Fernando quake, as well as the Loma Prieta quake, exposed deficiencies in that design for elevated freeways. This report highlights the seismic vulnerabilities of this heavily trafficked structure, and this more recent report looks at the impact of the Nisqually quake on the viaduct.

Opponents to the gas tax collected enough signatures to place I-912 on the ballot, which seeks to overturn the gas tax. Even the gas tax opponents concede that the highway projects need to be done, but think that the money will be found elsewhere without raising taxes. The state Republican party has endorsed I-912, mixing anti-tax fervor with an evident desire to nullify Governor Gregoire’s most visible accomplishment to date. Once upon a time, Republicans actually used to invest in infrastructure; the interstate highway system was implemented under President Eisenhower, and was in part intended as a Cold War security measure.

A year ago, I was opposed to an increase in sales tax for education, despite the importance of education. I said that a sales tax was not the best way to fund education, and unless education in Washington was in a state of emergency, I couldn’t advocate paying for it with a sales tax increase. I do believe that transportation in Washington is in a state of emergency, however, and a gas tax is a fair way to pay for badly-needed transportation improvements.

Source Sherry Nichols blog

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