Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Executive Candidates Debate SR 167 and Tolls

Last Friday, the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce sponsored a candidates’ forum for the County Executive candidates. Shawn Bunney, Mike Lonergan, and Calvin Goings were present. Pat McCarthy was unable to attend.

The moderator asked the candidates a couple of questions related to transportation. I did not take notes, but below is a synopsis of what I remember. RAMP members might find this of interest.

Question #1: What will be your approach to finding funding to complete large transportation projects in our area, specifically SR 167 between Puyallup and the Port of Tacoma?

Mr. Bunney: This must be approached on several levels. Federally, there will be a reauthorization bill in 2009. This may be an opportunity, and we can use Sen. Murray's clout. Maybe a special freight account with SR 167 as the centerpiece. At the state and regional levels, we need to fight for our fair share and stop sending our tax dollars to King County.

Mr. Lonergan: I have been working on the planning side for several years with the Puget Sound Regional Council and as Chair of the Pierce County Regional Council. An example is the PSRC plan which looks at transportation for the next 33 years. SR 167 is identified as an important part of the region’s needs. I would use RAMP as a vehicle to bring supporters of SR 167 together to develop and implement a strategy.

Mr. Goings: I will bring together a transportation workgroup within 90 days of taking office. I would like to work other counties for another regional package like the RTID effort. However, if that isn’t possible then we should put together a Pierce County only proposal. Either way, some proposal will be put together to go to the voters next fall.

Question #2: What is your position on using tolling a part of the solution for meeting the region's transportation needs?

Mr. Bunney: Yes, tolling must be part of the bigger solution.

Mr. Lonergan: Yes, look at the HOT lane experiment.

Mr. Goings: No, tolling is unfair to people who can't afford tolls. These should be "public highways."

I hope this is of interest. My apologies to the candidates if I did not adequately report the intent of what was said. If I did, I welcome corrections by replies to this blog.

George Walk

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