Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lessons from Tuesday's Elections?

Submitted by Paul Ellis

If there's a pattern in the results from yesterday's elections that bears an omen for next November's Roads & Transit vote, it's hard to discern:

  • Tacoma's Proposition 1, a property tax levy that would have raised $8 million a year for six years to fund street improvements needed for 6,600 of the city’s 8,800 blocks, failed by a large margin; city leaders failed to overcome a widespread public belief that city government should fix the streets with the money it already has--like the $4 million in gas tax money Tacoma gets each year from Washington State;
  • Seattle's Proposition 1, a nine-year property tax levy lid lift adding $365 million for street repairs and a host of other transportation infrastructure needs, also failed yesterday but by a narrower margin; almost one-fourth of the new dollars from Seattle's measure were to be directed to safety and pedestrian programs, street signs and signals, with millions more earmarked for tree planting, corridor improvements and bike trails;
  • Meanwhile, King County voters narrowly passed Proposition 2--"Transit Now"--which will raise sales taxes by one tenth of a percent and give Metro $50 million next year to buy buses and increase service, transforming five heavily used routes into "bus rapid transit," boosting service on 30 other routes (mostly in the suburbs), extending or adding routes in growing areas, and increasing vanpooling and service for disabled persons.

Nationwide, more than $40 billion was approved by voters in a number of proposals on Tuesday.

Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community’s largest transportation planning effort.

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