August 17, 2007
Senseless Light Rail Boondoggle (II)
An important lesson from the Minnesota bridge collapse:
Representative James Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, sent out a news release last month boasting about Minnesota's share of a recent transportation and housing appropriations bill.
Of the $12 million secured for the state, $10 million was slated for a new 40-mile, or 65-kilometer, commuter line to Minneapolis, called the Northstar. The remaining $2 million was divided among a new bike and walking path and a few other projects, including highway work and interchange reconstruction.
There are regrettable similarities with the RTID/ST2 proposal to blow tens of billions of dollars on a boondoggle that few will actually use, while still noodling around without a plan for replacing the 520 bridge
. The lesson from Minnesota is to shelve the RTID/ST2 proposal and return with a sensible plan that includes repairing or replacing heavily used but worn out structures like the 520 bridge and the Viaduct.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at August 17, 2007
01:13 PM | Email This
I thought the repair of the viaduct was already in the hopper, as was a new on-off ramp. Anyways, that was what was reported after the election. It wasn't the full retrofit, but it sure sounded close to it and for a real cheap price.
Where is Patty "Cake" Murray in all this? She is being quoted at Orbusmax as saying that she knows of a bridge where the kids walk across, the bus drives over the bridge and they pick the kids up on the other side. Surely she is all over the viaduct.
Hey, that means she is responsible for the Minnesota fiasco, doesn't it? Sorry, but the devil made me say it. Yes, I apologize. That is BDS reasoning.
And another road project that RTID won't fund is the I-5 resurfacing and repair from the ship canal north in Seattle. That work is 20 years overdue. WSDOT estimates the cost at $2 billion, with the price rising as Sims and Nickels dawdle. THAT is a much more high-priority, from a state wide economic perspective, than light rail.
Guess what would happen if RTID/ST2 is approved (heaven forbid) - the Party in Charge of Everything in Washington would just up the sales tax even more, without a vote, to pay for the SR 520 overruns, viaduct/tunnel/whatever, and the I-5 resurfacing and maintenance.
If ST2 passes, that board would have zero incentive to deliver anything on time or efficiently. The ordinance voters actually will be asked to approve (it won't be in the voters guide) is designed so nobody in charge can be held accountable for not delivering. There are less protections for taxpayers and citizens in this upcoming ballot measure than there were in the Seattle Monorail Plan, and that's saying something!
3. The bottom line. Politicians will not fix problems that makes life better. Then they can not demand more money to fix the problem that they refuse to fix. It is a never ending cycle. Basically Politicians in the you have to give me all your money. Using Government instead of a gun. They are robbing the tax payers everytime they waste money on projects that do not improve the area. Light Rail nice idea but allowing everything else to fall apart. WHere is mass transit when the roads are too dangerous to drive on. Buses will not work.
I wish the politicians would look at real solutions instead of Light rail that has raised cost estimates and delayed over a decade. how many times. Should cut losses on this one. But since the project is started it does not matter that it costs 2 to 5 times more than the original estimate. They will always blame everyone else for their miscalculations of project costs.
Look at 520 bridge. two years ago it was around a billion dollar. Now it is over 4 billion dollars. And we do not know what it is going to look like. Who knows what special interests are going to get a big hunk of the money
WSDOT is reporting that the traffic on I-5 dropped by 50 percent during construction. KOMO and others are reporting that Sounder is experiencing record volumes. No new buses were added.
Doesn't that mean that our transportation issues are mentalware, not hardware related? If people can reshape their lives to use the existing system -- why waste money ripping up landscape and charging the taxpapers?
Why allow Patti Murray to soak us in federal income tax for stuff that we may not even need??
seriously- the best thing that could happen to wa right now is for the 520 to structurally fail (w/out loss of life of course).
Gregoire's ineptness is costing us billions AND putting lives in danger.
Hey John at 4.
You cannot compare the reaction of people to a 19 day repair of a portion of I-5 with that of a permanent shutdown of the Viaduct. To use the old cliche, its comparing apples to oranges.
People can and will endure hardship of this kind for a short period of time - they go on vacation, prepare for and work a couple of weeks from home (more most people it is impossible to do so permanently), leave home and arrive home an hour earlier and later for a couple weeks, pack into hot, crowded, inefficient trains, etc. They (we) put up with the exasperation and make a sacrifice for short term road maintenance that is necessary. You can't expect people's reaction to be the same if told they must put up with that kind of hell indefinitely. The government is supposed to fund infrastructure that makes life better (easier, safer commutes), not fund alternatives that make life worse for the majority of us. Your addled thinking, and its viral repetition, only makes the nitwits in our local government more brazen.
7. I grew up in Seattle - worked downtown for years before relocating to the 'burbs to raise a family. Had to go downtown today for a class and could not believe how CRAPPY the roads have become! Potholes, cracks, broken pavement, rough and narrowed lanes, jammed with rude bus drivers and angry citizens! Where are all the tax dollars going?! We pay $.55 per gallon in taxes and the infrastructure is literally crumbling around us and Patty Murray brings home the bacon for erasers in a sculpture park becuase Bill Gates step-mother thinks that it's a nifty idea! Hello!! Could we get the grown ups in charge any time soon?
8. suzi, where are you going to find them? There is only one Toby to fight over.
9. What a shame---all this messing around on bike lanes and walking paths but no attention to a bridge that needed attention when they could have. Will our local leaders "get it"?
They have bike lanes on either side of the 520 Bridge, why not add one across 520 when they replace it.
If the Govt. could get people to agree about what should happen to the viaduct maybe it would get replaced/torn down. Not many people in CD/Madrona neighborhoods give a damn about the folks in Ballard/Magnolia.
11. I should have written "Will OUR local leaders get it?" (since, sadly, they didn't over in MN)
12. We are not the only state to pay the price for the push for intercity gentrification with transportation tax dollars.
The original corridors all over america were neglected,and left to fall apart.
Another problem is the retrofit happy policies outlined in TEA 21.
People need to read TEA 21 ,to get a better Understanding of why we build surface tyransit,and retrofit our granfathers structures.
TEA mandates by law that we do these things because the generate higher percentages of work.
TEA 21 is a prevailing wage construction wet dream.
It makes poor decisions law just to generate a higher percentage of income.
transit and retrofitting creates the higher percentages,so that is what we do the most.
I urge everyone to read TEA 21.
I know it is a lot to read but you will learn more about why we are where we are.
TEA 21 WAS A COP OUT ON ROADS,THE START OF HIGHWAY MANAGEMENT(RAMP METERING) AND THE BEGINING OF THE INTERCITY GENTRIFICATION PUSH.
13. TEA 21 was a jobs bill.
All the transportation decisons that we have been making since 1997 are made by refering to the TEA 21 formula which puts a percentage of jobs on each project.
Retrofitting and transit are the highest percentage of jobs listed.
Also the Bike path,and other fluff is part of creating more jobs.
It is amazing how stupid congress can be.
Here is the meat and potatoes of TEA 21.