Legislature adopts key bill supporting Roads & Transit vote
Regional transportation leaders applaud the Washington State Legislature for approving a key bill that keeps the Roads & Transit measure moving to the ballot in November. The bill simplifies the measure, presenting voters with a single question to vote on.
Extensive public input and surveys show that people want an integrated and coordinated plan that makes improvements to our region's transportation system. The Roads & Transit plan calls for dramatic new investments to extend light rail and make significant freeway, HOV and bridge improvements, build more park and ride lots, and add express bus service.
“This is a comprehensive package that puts an end to decades of underinvestment in transportation,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “The public is tired of all the second guessing and arguing. They want decisive action taken on transportation. We will give the public a clear choice on a balanced package that expands on the investments the state is making in our highway system.”
“This bill clears a major hurdle for the package and keeps the plan on track for a November vote,” said Regional Transit Investment District Chair and Pierce County Council Member Shawn Bunney. “This green light from the legislature means we are one step closer to finally doing something about the traffic mess.”
The single-ballot legislation that the Senate and House have adopted enables voters throughout the region to vote once on an integrated package. It eliminates the previous framework under which the Sound Transit and Regional Transportation Investment District (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 bill’s improved framework, votes on a single Roads & Transit ballot measure 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 strong bi-partisan support for the bill shows the Roads & Transit package has a lot of momentum,” Bunney said. “We are heading into the home stretch and look forward to finalizing the plan over the coming months.”
The legislation, HB1396, passed the Washington State Senate Tuesday on a vote of 44-4 and earlier passed the House on a vote of 96-1. It now moves forward for action by Governor Christine Gregoire.
The Draft 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
An expanded light rail system stretching more than 60 miles
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
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.
RTID and Sound Transit sought the public’s input on a draft package that would invest in $16.5 billion in capital projects around the region. The agencies are now working to refine the packages, with proposed Sound Transit enhancements including light rail extensions all the way to the Tacoma Dome and further north beyond Lynnwood.
After the road projects are finalized by RTID this spring, 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 will adopt final transit projects in April and in June will vote to place them on the November ballot.
“The public knows we can’t keep delaying the inevitable” Ladenburg said. “The region’s population will increase more than 40 percent by 2030. The number of trips on our already congested transportation system will increase 45 percent. We face a serious problem that requires us to act with no further delay. We thank our legislators and Governor for their support.”
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Sound Transit’s regional network of express buses, commuter rail, light rail and transit facilities connects communities in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.