Thursday, December 06, 2007

RAMP Accelerates Forward Motion Towards a Solution

With leadership from its Co-Chairs and participation from a record crowd of attendees representing a broad cross-section of Pierce County decision-makers, yesterday morning RAMP initiated a robust discussion about how to fund this area's transportation needs for the future.

Ian Stewart from EMC Research presented results of a recent regional survey conducted for Sound Transit reflecting how voters viewed the Roads & Transit proposal that they rejected. In brief, the survey results suggest that the region's voters rejected Proposition 1 because they saw the measure as a whole as too big and too expensive; nevertheless, traffic/transportation issues continue to be the runaway top concern for those same regional voters.

Members of the RAMP Staff Team presented a matrix comparing three possible new funding strategies, then discussed relative merits of each approach:
  • Regional Transit Investment District (RTID) - Pierce County is now eligible to "go it alone" on a roads package, or it can make another attempt in cooperation with King County;
  • Transportation Benefit District - another way to proceed that would require some additional jurisdictional structures to be created but (perhaps) allows more flexibility;
  • Local Option Gas Tax - one other discreet source of taxing authority that could provide transportation dollars and/or supplement revenues from the other approaches.

The staff team--which includes experts from Pierce County, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit, the Port of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, WSDOT and the City of Tacoma--will work this month to "flesh out" information on the three options, including more finely tuned projections for potential revenues from each approach. An expanded matrix will be presented to participants at RAMP's next meeting: Wednesday morning, January 9th (one week later than the normal schedule).

At that same meeting, participants will be briefed on findings from comprehensive polling of Pierce County residents--information that will add to the regional data--just now being completed by EMC Research. Participants will also be asked to finalize RAMP's 2008 Legislative Priorities.