Thursday, November 08, 2007

Back to the Drawing Board

Proposition 1, which would have raised taxes to pay for $18 billion worth of road and transit projects, failed at the polls Tuesday by a wide margin in all three Central Puget Sound counties. At this month's RAMP meeting (held yesterday morning), local transportation leaders were still trying to regroup after the drubbing at the polls.
"We're going to have to work through the noise about the campaign and its failure over the next few weeks," Shawn Bunney, Chair for the Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID), stated. We have to go back to the people of our region and ask: "Did you really not want transportation to work?"

RAMP Co-Chair John Ladenburg observed: "There will be lots of conflicting theories, but one thing's for sure--doing nothing is not an option." Ladenburg is the Pierce County Executive and the Chair for Sound Transit.

The impassioned "morning after" soul-searching gave way to steely resolve as RAMP participants began their scheduled discussion about priorities for lobbying in the 2008 Legislative Session. Governor Chris Gregoire and other state leaders seem to be focused mainly on one project--replacing the SR-520 bridge across Lake Washington. Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, believes it’s time to take another look some sort of super agency--like the Regional Transportation Commission--to coordinate all agencies across the region that plan, fund and operate road and transit projects.

"We need to be at the top of our game going into Olympia this year," Ladenburg said. He and RAMP Co-Chair David Graybill called for a transportation summit of sorts at next month's RAMP meeting (December 5th). At that meeting, participants will be asked to consider several related issues, including:

  • How does Pierce County gain statewide--even regional, for that matter--recognition for its infrastructure needs (e.g., the I-5 bridge over the Puyallup River is just as ready to fall as the Alaskan Way Viaduct)?

  • Should Pierce County break away from King and Snohomish counties to present its own roads package to voters, as allowed by state law if the regional Roads & Transit measure failed?

  • How do we effectively address not just building projects but providing congestion relief?