Local-Only and the End of Regionalism

On our podcast this week (iTunes link), we discussed Rob Johnson’s local-focused transit tax idea broached by Josh Feit on Slog. The result was a pretty lively discussion of the future of transit, the Sonics and more.

Although the idea has merit, as my guest Eugene pointed out, it’s more or less another end-run around “regionalism.” Or, rather, it’s an attempt to keep a facade of regionalism alive long enough to get light rail built across Lake Washington. In that respect, it’s not much different from the sub-area equity principle, and is therefore subject to many of the same problems.

Pierce County, for its part, seems focused on (1) extending SR 167 to the Port of Tacoma and (2) building the Cross-Base Highway. It’s not clear whether offering hundreds of millions of dollars in bus service is really going to get the leadership down there on board.

Pierce County, We Need to Talk

Hey Pierce,

Umm… so, here’s the thing. Let me start out by saying I really like you as a friend. Seriously. And it’s been great being your neighbor for the last 100 years. I really mean that.

But ever since we got engaged by Sound Move in ’95, and married by RTID in ’03, well… I’ve been having second thoughts. It seems like we just don’t have a lot of the same interests anymore.

For instance, I want to build light rail to Redmond and Northgate… and even maybe West Seattle, Ballard, and Federal Way. You’ve got your Tacoma link, sure, but you really don’t seem interested in light rail from Tacoma to Sea-Tac.

Oh yeah… Sea-Tac. She’ll always be our child, and we’ve raised her well. But once the Central Link opens in 2009, well… she’s going to grow a lot closer to me than she is to you. You can still visit her on the weekends, though.

I guess what I’m saying is that I kinda want to build a lot of trains, and right now, because of Sound Transit funding rules, the more trains I want to build the more you have to build, too. And you just don’t seem interested.

So… I think we need to spend some time apart. I’m not saying we can’t get back together again, I just think maybe I’m going through a selfish phase right now. I need to focus on me for a while. I hope you understand.


King County

Going it Alone

Surprise! Pierce County may decide to build those roads anyway:

The defeat of Proposition 1 would allow Pierce County to break away from King and Snohomish counties and present its own road package to voters, although that’s not an option county officials are embracing just yet.

“I think it is something one would think about,” said Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney, chairman of the three-county Regional Transportation Investment District. “But I’m not sure our transportation problems lend themselves to a single-county solution.

Bunney, a likely candidate for county executive in 2008, said his main concern is making sure Pierce County tax dollars are spent in Pierce County. He also wants work to proceed on the extension of Highway 167 from the Port of Tacoma to Puyallup.


I appreciate the micro-targeting as much as the next guy, but is it odd to anyone else that none of the the new Yes on Prop. 1 ads, including the Pierce County ones, mention the controversial Cross Base Highway?

To me, this is more evidence that even the supporters of the plan don’t think it’s going to get built.

(Via CIS)

Mark Your Calendars

If the RTID does pass sans Cross Base Highway, it will hinge on the Pierce County Council’s moves this coming week. Pierce County Exec John Ladenburg claims he has the votes to kill it, others aren’t so sure. According to the News-Tribune, here’s where things stand:

The News Tribune contacted Pierce County Council members this week to find out where they stand on the regional roads package that does not include key funding for the cross-base highway. The council would need four votes to approve the roads package and five votes to overturn a threatened veto by County Executive John Ladenburg.

Here’s what council members said:

Shawn Bunney, R-Lake Tapps: Supports proposed package.

Roger Bush, R-Graham: Wants to see details before making up his mind.

Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma: Supports proposed package.

Barbara Gelman, D-Tacoma: Leaning against proposed package.

Calvin Goings, D-Puyallup: Opposes proposed package, saying it doesn’t spend enough on Highway 167.

Terry Lee, R-Gig Harbor: Wants more information before making up his mind.

Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom: Supports proposed package.

Three “yeas,” two-ish “nays,” and two undecideds. It’s a nail-biter! They’ll have to convince both Bush and Lee if they hope to override the veto. The three county councils will meet June 8 at 10am to vote on whether or not to even send the package to the voters. It’s possible that some councils will approve it and some won’t.

The Seattle Times’ James Vesely says this is more evidence of how fragile the RTID is going into November.

RTID Minus Cross Base?

Erica Barnett reports that the RTID will go through without the Cross Base Highway, which environmentalists oppose. It’s a risky move, since Pierce County exec (and current Sound Transit chair) John Ladenburg really wants the highway and has said he’ll fight the ballot measure if the Cross Base is eliminated. It’s hard to see how having the chair of Sound Transit actively working against the organization would be a good thing for anyone. But maybe he’ll realize he’s outgunned and move on.

It would be a huge coup for environmentalists if the highway doesn’t make the final cut.