Governor Approves Joint “Roads & Transit” Ballot Measure Legislation
Action clears key hurdle for November vote
The region’s transportation leaders praised Gov. Chris Gregoire today for signing into law legislation moving forward the region’s first integrated transportation proposal for reducing congestion and improving mass transit service.
The action streamlines the Roads & Transit ballot measure that is on track to go before voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in November.
“This legislation gives voters a clear choice on doing something about transportation,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “Gov. Gregoire and the Legislature are to be thanked for their partnership in enabling a historic transportation vote that will shape our lives for decades to come.”
The bill simplifies the November Roads & Transit election, presenting central Puget Sound voters with a single question on whether they want to approve a plan that both expands mass transit and makes needed road improvements throughout the region.
Extensive public input shows that citizens want a combined, integrated and coordinated plan that makes improvements to our region's transportation system.
“Tackling our traffic problems is a top priority,” said Gov. Gregoire. “The Roads & Transit measure gives voters a chance to approve a comprehensive package of improvements that will help keep people and our economy moving for generations.”
If enacted, the plan calls for dramatic new investments to build 50 additional miles of light rail and make significant highway improvements to manage congestion and to repair earthquake vulnerable bridges, to build more park and ride lots, add more frequent express bus service and improve commuter rail facilities.
“This bill sends the right message – that we need both road improvements and transit solutions to fix our transportation problems. Voters will have a clear choice in November to do something about the traffic we have to deal with everyday,” said Regional Transit Investment District Chair and Pierce County Council Member Shawn Bunney.
The legislation revises the previous voting framework under which the Sound Transit and RTID projects would be voted on separately, with the requirement that voters would have to pass both packages for either to take effect. Under the new law people will vote once on the Roads & Transit plan. The votes will be counted once within the Sound Transit District and once within the RTID District, which extends further north into Snohomish County. The measure will take effect if it passes in both districts. The area that falls outside the Sound Transit district will only pay for the roads projects.
The Roads & Transit Plan: An Investment in Our Region’s Future
The Roads & Transit package will present to voters a unified program of investments in freeways, light- and commuter-rail, HOV lanes, park/ride lots, and express and local bus service. Key features include:
- Reduction in traffic delays
- Faster travel times
- 50 miles of new light rail adding service to Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island, Des Moines, Federal Way, Fife, Tacoma, Northgate, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and the 164th Street area of Snohomish County.
- Major improvements to “highways of regional significance” and chokepoints- I-5, I-405, SR 167, SR 9, SR 509, US 2, SR 522
- 10,000 new park-and-ride stalls
- New HOV lanes
- Bike lanes, side walks, better connections
- Major freight routes improved
More information on the projects is available at www.roadsandtransit.org.
Since last summer the region’s residents have voiced strong support for the joint Roads & Transit approach. Over the course of conducting two series of public meetings throughout the region Sound Transit and RTID received more than 8,000 public comments. Two surveys of the public conducted by the Sound Transit confirm this support, and also the public’s desire for a package that is big enough to help catch up from years of underinvestment. Public support was highest for the options that made the highest level of investment.
Together, the Sound Transit projects and the draft RTID projects would invest $17.6 billion (2006$) in the region’s mobility. They would be paid for by increasing the region’s sales tax by 0.6 of one percent (six cents on a $10 purchase) and car tab taxes by 0.8 percent ($80 per $10,000 of vehicle value).
After the RTID projects are finalized they will be advanced for Snohomish, Pierce and King county councils’ approval. With their endorsements, they will be placed on the ballot for voters to consider in November 2007. Sound Transit has adopted final transit projects and is scheduled to place them on the ballot in November.