Friday, December 21, 2012

RAMP 1/2 @ 8AM

Agenda 1/2/13
The Fabulich Center
3600 Port of Tacoma Road; 98424

8:00     Welcome & Self-Introductions                                  
            Tom Pierson, Co-Chair, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber              

8:05     State Legislative Outlook on Transportation
            Bruce Dammeier, 25th District State Senator
            Laurie Jinkins, 27th District State Legislator
            Hans Zeiger, 25th District State Legislator

8:45     Round Robin
9:00     Closing Remarks & Adjourn
             Pat McCarthy, Co-Chair, Pierce County
Next RAMP Meeting
Wednesday, February 6th – Details TBD
RAMP is a regional coalition including business, labor, public and private organizations and citizens dedicated to improved mobility in the South Sound and Washington State. Our mission is to ensure a healthy regional economy associated with the development of an effective, efficient transportation system and the resources to sustain it. RAMP is co-chaired by Pierce CountyExecutive Pat McCarthy, Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe and Tacoma-Pierce CountyChamber President & CEO Tom Pierson.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gregoire Releases Transportation Budget Proposal

Today outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire released her final budget proposal for the state legislature, which included a transportation budget proposal.

Gregoire highlighted transportation as “the backbone of our economy,” noting that the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma transport “99.7 percent of the state’s international container traffic.” The proposal also said that transportation projects provide much needed jobs while ensuring reliability for businesses to move goods and employees.

The proposal suggested investing in eight important transportation projects, of which two are located in Pierce County: State Route 167 Tacoma to Puyallup new corridor and Interstate 5/ Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

SR 167 was described as a “critical missing link in the state highway network.” The project was estimated at costing $1.5 billion.

Likewise, I5/ JBLM was noted as being a “critical economic lifeline for Washington and the Pacific Northwest” and a “backbone of connectivity to the ports of Tacoma, Seattle, and Olympia.” This project was cited as costing $820 million.

The proposal, unfortunately, did not include a revenue package that would fund SR 167, I5/ JBLM, or any other transportation project. Instead, Gregoire proposed an excise tax on gasoline and diesel projected at $1 billion to fund K-12 student transportation services, calling into question how these transportation projects so vital to our economy will be funded.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gregoire Prepares Major Transportation Package

The Tacoma News Tribune reported that outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire is preparing a multi-billion dollar transportation package to be released in a budget proposal next week.

While the article noted a few major projects, it did not mention State Route 167. Gregoire said that while all of the road projects were important, any transportation package will be “dominated by maintenance and operation,” suggesting that the completion of SR-167 may be left out.

SR-167 is the primary freeway connecting the Kent and Puyallup River valleys to the Seattle/ Tacoma/ Bellevue metropolitan area. Construction of the final leg of the freeway from Puyallup to Tacoma halted in the 1980s. Completion of the project, a critical missing link in the state’s highway network, would improve safety while reducing congestion along local roads and freeways in the surrounding area. It would also move freight faster and more economically, connecting the warehouses of the valleys, as well as freeways of Eastern Washington, to the Port of Tacoma. The project would also improve surface water quality and holds other environmental benefits.

Currently, the cost to complete SR-167 is estimated at $1.5 billion. Given the project’s statewide significance, it would be detrimental if the much needed completion of SR-167 were left out of any transportation package.