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March 15, 2007

State support could speed up timeline for creating rapid transit in Puget Sound Region

I’m very excited about Sound Transit phase 2, with plans for Light Rail crisscrossing the region, expanded commuter rail and new express buses. This funding for a dramatic expansion of rapid transit in the region is long overdue. The Sound Transit phase 2 ballot measure will likely be decided by voters in the RTA district in November.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The problem is a Washington State government short on ideas for revenue and an inability to politically make rapid transit funding a priority. According to Rob Johnson, Regional Policy Director for Transportation Choices Coalition, Sound Transit is the only agency building a regional light rail system in the United States without financial support from the state government.

The capital costs for building the rail system, including the constraints of bonding capacity should not be shouldered by a regional government. The state must take their obligation seriously to fix our transportation system. With this kind of support, the timeline for building Sound Transit phase 2 could happen in 10 years, and not 25 years. As a region we are decades behind many other major U.S. metropolitan areas in our investment in transit. I know it can begin to sound redundant to constantly harp about failed leadership by state officials, and there is no doubt that we have moved forward in the last couple of years, reversing a major funding deficit for transportation, yet we require a change in direction that shifts our funding priorities.

Lets call a spade a spade, and stop pretending that WSDOT offers this state a plan for transportation. The “Washington State Department of Transportation” has a plan for building, maintaining and expanding highways, at a time when we need to be rethinking our auto-centric transportation system. We simply haven’t been asking the right questions about how to solve our transportation problems. By revising state transportation goals, we can reframe the questions and have the ability to explore more innovative solutions.

Cross Posted on The Urban Environmentalist

Posted by EzraBasom on March 15, 2007 at 09:31 PM in Policy | Permalink

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