December 11, 2006
The Right and the Left Don't Speak the Same Language
Ok, it's no shock the right and the left aren't on the same page on most partisan issues; everyone expects that. The stark contrast, however, between where the right and left are at on transportation (rarely a den of gleeful partisan fighting) is illustrative of the Puget Sound region's inability to act decisively to relieve congestion.
Over the weekend a post from this author discussing one potential component of the RTID-Sound Transit joint ballot measure in November elicited the usual commentary from readers, which usually includes some variant of this theme: "the joint ballot is a sham to sucker us into approving Sound Transit which is destined to fail." Contrast that with Josh' Feit's recent discussion of the same issue at the Stranger's Blog that typifies a common theme in liberal Seattle: "the joint ballot is a sham to sucker us into approving more road construction which is destined to fail."
The difference in thought captured above demonstrates why the Legislature is forcing a joint ballot measure rather than stand-alone choices: the region's constituencies not only can't make up their mind, they're not even talking on the same page. Take 520 for example. Conservatives get mightily annoyed that the expansion of 520 isn't likely to include new general-purpose lanes across the bridge span. Meanwhile, some liberals won't even agree adding two HOV lanes is a good idea. Furthermore, as Feit covered in the link above, local neighborhoods are whining about the prudent Pacific Interchange option, which is attracting support from both Seattle and Bellevue. Of course, Mayor Nickels says slow down and study the issue. Enough already. This is a recipe for stalemate, which we've been suffering through for years.
The honest truth is a region composed of suburbs surrounding an urban center needs both transit options and significant spending on roads. Both are necessary for reasons of transportation planning and political demand. We can argue all we want about the exact composition of the ballot measure itself, but in the end, serious supporters of long overdue road expansion in this region should be aware of their options. Fight for as palatable as a package as you can get from this ballot measure, where at least the RTID leadership has reasonable inclusion of elected officials from East King as well as Snohomish and Pierce Counties. Or kill the thing. But, does any road-supporting conservative think we'll get a better shake if RTID fails and the issue gets punted back to the near supermajorities in the Democratic Legislature?
Posted by Eric Earling at December 11, 2006
08:15 AM | Email This
So, your suggestion is to approve sight unseen what is being proposed. I think not.
I don't understand this love affair with transit many in the region have. If, for example, light rail was so lucrative, why don't the railroads institute the service. Why, for example, if light rail is such a good thing, does ST run the inefficient and cost ineffective run between the cities? Why don't the railroads get in the business? After all, aren't they in the business to make money?
What's wrong with the legislators' legislating? Maybe that is what is takes to turn the State around.
I see all these humongous bills coming down the pike and I see a WHOOPS!! all over again. WPPSS (Washington Public Power Supply System) is the aborted power system that built nukes in the 70s.
The short answer to your question ("does any road-supporting conservative think we'll get a better shake if RTID fails and the issue gets punted back to the near supermajorities in the Democratic Legislature?") is Yes.
The legislators NEVER would give the kind of open-ended new taxing and bonding authority to ST that ST could get if it is successful with the measure its lawyers are drafting now to put on the ballot next Nov. The tyranny of the majority is what we have to fear when it comes to giving neverending taxes to an unaccountable government like ST. The legislators are accountable to voters after the fact; as we know from ST1, Sound Transit is not.
These ballot measures for megaprojects are a suckers game; they're rigged against the public. Eric, how do you think the ST2 and RTID measures will be better for taxpayers than the Monorail ballot measure was? Until you can answer that question (which you can't now, because ST and RTID have not disclosed what their upcoming financing schemes will be), you have absolutely no reason to be pushing as hard as you are for this joint ballot measure.
IT is hard to trust the Governmenet. The legislature knows we have a transportation issue that needs to be fixed. Last year they increased spending by over a billion dollars because of the excess taxes recieved. Not a dime went to transportation. Just more social programs. Democrats believe they can get voters to keep increasing taxes to allow them to divert the money to social programs and never fix the roads. As long as they continue demanding more and more money it means they can divert some of it to other projects.
Example. Why not say no sales tax required to be paid for goods used to build roads? Reason it is a 9 and maybe 10 percent diversion of Gas Tax Money spent on Tar, Rock, ect. More money available to general Fund. Of course the democrats would not want to stop this funding source. Or for mass transit everytime you buy a bus for the system tax dollars are again diverted when you pay sales tax. The nickel dime by the State and County to get more revenue for other than transportation fixes. No wonder they are always over budget.
How many other things that they due raise the cost of doing these projects. A certain Lawyer group makes millions selling all the State Bonds. Guess what they do lots of dirty work for Democrats free so they can continue being the sole source of selling these bonds. I think it would be wiser and cheaper to pay as you go. No bonds that go for 30 years. Because they plan mega projects that will have lots of waste in 5 years and they will demand more taxes and more bonds to be sold and we will never have a system that is fixed. Just more and more money going into paying bonds. To those how do not understand. Instead of every gas tax payment going to improve roads more and more of it gets diverted to paying bonds. Less and less of the total take will be used for Road Maintenance and new road projects. That portion of the gas tax has been spent for the next 20+ years. Bonds are bad the politicians make it sound great yet again you are giving millions to lawyers to run this system.
I hope the legislators will NEVER do this. The shot gun marriage of RTID and ST is BAD because ST is never ending taxes and RTID is not! We shouldn't give never ending taxes to unaccountable gov't - but alas, the legislature did that!
from Swatter "The legislators NEVER would give the kind of open-ended new taxing and bonding authority to ST that ST could get if it is successful with the measure its lawyers are drafting now to put on the ballot next Nov. The tyranny of the majority is what we have to fear when it comes to giving neverending taxes to an unaccountable government like ST. The legislators are accountable to voters after the fact; as we know from ST1, Sound Transit is not.
5. Eric Earling - What is PRUDENT about the Pacific Interchange? It is a monster, unaffordable viaduct - eyesore for ever!
6. In honor of the AP I have gotten an 'anonymous source' in side the Transportation Department to admit that the "plans for the RTID is to spend all the money on Mass Transit and Discuss Road work for 3 years until Mass transit has used up all the money on Budget overflows." So that they can ask for money to help with fix the roads. Plans are to do a few things but nothing to really help transportation issue to get better.
Please note this is an AP style of anonymous source. Simular to those used by AP in IRAQ.
7. Eric Earling - What is PRUDENT about the Pacific Interchange? It is a monster, unaffordable viaduct - eyesore for ever!
I also do not know what is "prudent" about the Pacific Interchange. It certainly is NOT fiscally prudent, as it's one of the most expensive options, and includes every MITIGATION under the sun. You will hear the word "mitigation" to the point it will make you sick with that 520 project.
The entire vote on RTID is a sham. It doesn't matter what the people approve, because "projections" will just be revised later on and projects canceled when those costs go up, just like they have already done with the last gas tax increase. I would rather make the legislature go on record approving the massive tax increases.
I'm an engineer. I considered joining the firm which now oversees the Sound Transit rail construction. I declined, for personal reasons, but the interview process made for a great education on the technical and political difficulties of all such large construction projects.
A single lane on a highway can transport 3,000 vehicles in an hour at 60 miles an hour. Any increase in the number of vehicles will quickly cause a traffic jam, because the human brain cannot think any faster. That same lane, dedicated to busses (or covered in rail tracks) can transport 20,000 persons in that same hour, at that same speed. Building big, ugly freeways will solve no problems. We should have declared a moratorium on all new highway construction in this country thirty years ago.
10. #9, how do you propose to get people out of their cars and into this wonderful system of buses and trains? It won't happen, ever. Get over the liberal utopian idea of mass transit that works over such a large idea. People are too selfish to give up the freedom of their cars and subject themselves to schedules created by the transportation authorities. That one lane could theoretically carry 20,000 people/hour, but it never will. Remember that communism also works great in theory.
What #9 and Robert Mugabe/Putin wannabes ignore is the ever decentralization of activities of the USA and its inhabitants.
There are not 20,000 people going to the same place..There are 20,000 people going to 18,000 places.
Centalized organizations have been collapsing in this country for decades, and will continue to.
Which, of course, for a clear thinking adult, renders HOV lanes, buses, light rail utterly irrelevant in 98% of all situations.
"...how do you propose to get people out of their cars and into this wonderful system of buses and trains?"
By not paying my tax money to subsidize any other form of transportation for them. Private vehicles are heavily subsidized by public taxes, which could instead pay for more efficient methods.
"People are too selfish to give up the freedom of their cars and subject themselves to schedules created by the transportation authorities."
So, they'd rather subject themselves to irregular rush hour schedules, created at random by their fellow drivers? (And having origins in where the highways go, i.e. ultimately, "created by the highway authorities", which are public.)
"What #9 and Robert Mugabe/Putin wannabes ignore is the ever decentralization of activities of the USA and its inhabitants."
A process heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, comrade driver. (Can't you people even discuss transport issues without resorting to name-calling?) We could just as easily pay to re-centralize.
"Centalized organizations have been collapsing in this country for decades, and will continue to."
Yeah, that Federal Aviation Administration was a real waste of tax money, when you'd really rather drive to L.A. or Florida from here anyway. (Do you people even think before you type this stuff?)
"There are not 20,000 people going to the same place..There are 20,000 people going to 18,000 places."
When I commuted from Seattle to Bellevue, we were all going from one end of the floating bridge to the other. (That's why it backed up every day.) Just replacing some of that with transit makes more sense than building new highway lanes ever will.
13. By not paying my tax money to subsidize any other form of transportation for them. Private vehicles are heavily subsidized by public taxes, which could instead pay for more efficient methods.
Isn't the tax money used to pay for transportation "solutions" primarily paid for by private vehicles? It is these private vehicles that are subsidizing every other transportation method out there, not the other way around. So, shouldn't a representative government build what the majority of people paying the bulk of the taxes actually want? Do you really think everyone out there driving cars want all of their tax dollars going to transit?
"Isn't the tax money used to pay for transportation 'solutions' primarily paid for by private vehicles?"
I doubt it, but even if it is, we should think of these as transportation problems, not car-and-highway problems, because the former may have solutions. The latter do not. If we subsidize something, we get more of it. That can be either effective mass transit, or more clogged highways. I vote to use our tax money more efficiently.
"So, shouldn't a representative government build what the majority of people paying the bulk of the taxes actually want?"
Someone actually wants to sit in traffic?