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, March 1, 2008

Nickel and TPA Gas Tax Projects are way behind

Despite Claims, Gas Tax Projects Are Not on Track

by Michael Ennis
Director, Center for Transportation
March 2008

In 2003 and 2005, state officials raised the gas tax by 14.5 cents to pay for 432 Nickel and Transportation Partnership (TPA) projects. Now, state leaders are not fulfilling what they said when they imposed these tax increases.

Despite overestimating revenues and underestimating costs by $3.8 billion, state policymakers assert this year’s supplemental transportation budgets preserves these projects. Through a series of accounting adjustments, lower interest rates and overhead reductions, leaders claim they have funded the gap.

The following remarks illustrate how state leaders explain their assurances to the public:

“We followed the governor’s lead, scrutinized every last project and were able to produce a budget that keeps projects on track...”
-Rep. Judy Clibborn, February 20, 2008

“The House Chair’s proposed budget maintains the commitment to the Nickel and Transportation Partnership projects.”
-Budget Highlights, House Transportation Budget, February 20, 2008

“The Governor’s 2008 budget proposal keeps these projects moving forward and addresses immediate safety needs.”
-Statement on the Governor’s website for her proposed Transportation budget

“Democrats…said their budget keeps all of the 400-plus planned highway and bridge projects moving forward.”
-David Ammons, AP article, February 22, 2008

Upon reviewing each of the proposed budgets however, shows that state policymakers are not maintaining their commitment. In 2003, state officials promised taxpayers that 158 Nickel projects would be complete by 2013 and that the 274 TPA projects would be completed by 2021.

The Governor’s budget delays ten projects beyond these original promise dates; the Senate delays eleven and the House delays fifteen. Some projects are delayed more than fourteen years, which implies they may never be built. Pushing projects beyond their original completion dates breaks the promises made to voters when the tax increases were first adopted.
The following table shows the delays in each of the budget proposals.

Michael Ennis is director of the Center for Transportation at Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan public policy research organization with offices in Seattle and Olympia. Nothing here should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation before any legislative body. For more information contact WPC at 206-937-9691 or online at

The articles are posted solely for educational purposes to raise awareness of transportation issues. I claim no authorship, nor do I profit from this website. Where known, all original authors and/or source publisher have been noted in the post. As this is a knowledge base, rather than a blog, I have reproduced the articles in full to allow for complete reader understanding and allow for comprehensive text searching...see custom google search engine at the top of the page. If you have concerns about the inclusion of a specific article, please email for a speedy resolution.