Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tacoma Electeds Divided Over Roads & Transit

Submitted by Paul Ellis

A dust up is brewing for the Tacoma City Council Chambers next Tuesday evening as the city's elected officials consider competing resolutions related to Pierce County Proposition 1--the $18 billion (regionally) Roads & Transit package.

Councilmember Tom Stenger has introduced a resolution to oppose the issue on the November ballot. It states the following reasons for opposition:

  • Sound Transit has failed to fulfill its promises from the 1996 package, including failing to provide ten commuter rail round trips per day and failing to provide "reverse commute" service;
  • Sound Transit's plan creates serious disadvantages for Tacoma residents, including a design at Tacoma's Pacific Avenue Crossing that provides for a dangerous at-grade crossing and requiring Tacoma taxpayers to pay taxes for 20 years before light rail connects from SeaTac Airport to Tacoma;
  • RTID takes over $10 from Tacoma to be spent in the suburbs while spending only $1 in the City; and
  • Tacoma has been excluded from the RTID planning process and its needs, which are as great as anybody's, were not fairly considered.

Stenger, it may be recalled, was the City of Tacoma's representative to regional planning bodies until that privilege was revoked by the City Council following outbursts of intemperate language and what some characterized as inappropriate responses to citizens.

Julie Anderson, Tacoma's current representative to the Sound Transit Board, has also introduced a resolution expressing the City Council's support for Proposition 1. This resolution cites a number of reasons for support of the ballot measure, including:

  • The package contains several road projects of benefit to Tacoma, including completion of State Route ("SR") 167, from Puyallup to SR 509; creating a direct southern access to SeaTac Airport by completing the connection between SR-509 and Interstate 5 ("I-5"); and funding for an I‑5 access ramp to the Tacoma Mall, bypassing the congested South 38th Street and Steele Street intersection;
  • The package also contains several transit projects of benefit to Tacoma, including extending Link light rail from SeaTac Airport to the Tacoma Dome Station intermodal terminal; funds for additional Sounder commuter rail service; and expansion of Sounder Station parking in several locations.

The majority of city leaders seems to appreciate the value of the proposed package and are likely to vote to support Roads & Transit, but Tuesday evening's fireworks may be worth watching.

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.