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.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Tacoma News Tribune Editorial on Rossi's Transportation plan

From Rossi, a road map to Puget Sound polls
Published: April 18th, 2008 01:00 AM
Dino Rossi’s new transportation plan was barely released Tuesday before Democrats started nipping at its weak points like a pack of wild dogs.

No wonder: The plan itself was designed to nip at Gov. Chris Gregoire’s vulnerabilities in the November election.

Rossi is saying that he can use existing taxes to build “megaprojects” the Puget Sound region has never been able to win funding for. That claim carries a big burden of proof, and he hasn’t met it. In some cases, his cost estimates appear low. He proposes to use state general fund money without specifying what state services would be cut to compensate. These flaws are easy targets.

But the plan as a whole is an attack on the powers-that-be who’ve been unable to deliver crucial highway improvements. Puget Sound drivers desperately need both Interstate 405 and Highway 167 widened, and the Highway 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way viaduct replaced. Pierce County’s economy needs Highway 167 extended to the Port of Tacoma; it needs the creation of a cross-base highway to link the Frederickson area with Interstate 5.

These projects and others are stuck in what seems an endless holding pattern. As always, the problem is lack of money. Last November’s Proposition 1 was supposed to raise – from the region’s taxpayers – billions of dollars needed to pay for the megaprojects, but the voters rejected it.

Its failure is hardly Gregoire’s fault – though it’s easy for Republicans to blame her. In reality, both Republicans and Democrats share responsibility for the fact that no real plan now exists to tackle the region’s most critical highway priorities.

The Rossi package zeroes in on that vacuum. For example, it proposes to replace the tottering viaduct with what would inevitably be a hugely expensive tunnel. The tunnel looks needlessly costly, but it is something concrete. Neither Gregoire nor Seattle’s leaders have been able to settle on anything so specific.

The plan’s most politically appealing (and dubious) feature is that it would not raise taxes – not regionally, not statewide. That’s quite a stretch, even given Rossi’s optimistic assumption that only $402 million a year would have to be squeezed (from unspecified programs) out of the general fund.

Details, details. The point here to to attack the common assumption that Puget Sound taxpayers must dig deep into their pockets to pay for the region’s major infrastructure improvements. He argues that these are state projects that ought to be paid for with state revenues. Realistic or not, that will be a sweet sound for some of the voters who hate being stalled in traffic but balked at the cost of Proposition 1.

Those voters live in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, where the governor’s race will be decided this fall. Whatever its merits as a transportation package, the political merits of Rossi’s plan are obvious.

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