Pay no attention to the light rail behind the curtain!

Monday night I went to the Sierra Club’s No on Prop. 1 kickoff. It was less like most campaign events. It was held in Mike O’Brien’s back yard. (Read this interview with Mike)

I took part in a breakout session with several Sierra Club activists. Our facilitator gave us some copy to read, and we took turns reciting the language. One of the gals, who wasn’t as die-hard against the package, asked the facilitator:

“This paper talks about RTID, which is bad. But the title of the ballot measure is Roads and Transit. Shouldn’t we refer to it as “Roads and Transit” instead?”

The Sierra Club official quickly corrected her.

“No. Don’t mention the transit. Mention global warming. Talk about RTID.”

I respect the Sierra Club guys. I don’t disagree with them on most of the facts, it’s their political judgment I question. Most of the people I talked to are convinced that if the Roads and Transit package fails, our elected officials will learn their lesson and give us a transit-only package in ’08.

In an election year.

With Gov. Gregoire on the ballot.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I find it much more likely that if this package fails, Gov. Gregoire will take care of business. Her business. And that’s SR-520, not Sound Transit. Olympia politicians don’t care about rail, only roads. They’re waiting for an excuse to enact “governance reform,” which will “reform” Sound Transit, alright.

Right out of existence, come next year, if this package goes down.


  1. 1


    Will …

    The more I read by you, the closer we become! You must be getting smarter (grin).

    The RTID thing is an utter mess. It is clearly a defective proposal … no one claims it actually covers the projected costs … yet there is the threat of a kind of blackmail?

    I do not know about the average Jo, but I am utterly confused about this. It seems to me that what we need is L-E-A-D-E-R-S-H-I-P! Why can’t Gregoire insist on putting together a real, comprehensive plan for transportation in an area?

    This give me a novel thought .. would anyone be interested in a debate at DL on this topic? Lib vs Lib! As Goldy says, who woulda thought?

  2. 2

    MichaelW spews:

    Last I checked, Sound Transit was originally approved, without roads attached, in November 1996 — an election year!

    There will be more than one election in 2008. If the Governor is really that nervous about having Sound Transit on the November ballot, have a special election in May.

  3. 3

    MichaelW spews:

    From the linked article:

    “The mere existence of light rail doesn’t do anything. We fix greenhouse gases by getting people out of cars. Light rail is one of many tools we can use, but if we’re simultaneously building more freeways, it’s not going to do any good.”

    Rather than liberal versus liberal, this is a debate between those that believe in global warming, and those who must think it isn’t that big of a deal.

  4. 4

    bill spews:

    I would challenge the Sierra Club to point to one State Legislator that agrees with them and is willing to push a Sound Transit only package next year.

    Last session half the legislator tried to kill Sound Transit through governance “reform” and the other half were pushing for Roads and Transit. The latter group won.

    The Sierra Club is about 50 years off from their political utopia that will grant them a light rail only plan when we have bridges like 520, South Park, Spokane Street Viaduct, that are failing, intersections like Hwy 18 and I-5 that are unsafe and HOV lanes with gaps in them that slow down our investment in bus service. And areas like Lake Stevens that have little to no transit service and need more buses, park and rides and signal priority on Hwy 9 (Roads and Transit gives them that).

    So at the end of the day, what the Sierra Club’s position is likely to produce is just more of same. And come 2060 we can all sit around the table and design the perfect transit system for our region and maybe Olympia, local electeds and voters will support it.

    I’ll take this plan now thanks.

  5. 6

    scotto spews:

    RTID will make global warming worse.

    Given what we know today, the Club had no choice but to oppose it. It seems to me that if you concede that global warming exists — and I mean really concede, as in you think we have to do something about it — then it is hard to also believe that RTID is a good idea.

    As for politics… last year, not a single Seattle area legislator agreed with the Club’s Alaska Way viaduct Surface+Transit position, yet this is now the leading contender.

    As for the bridges, etc…. RTID does not come even close to fixing 520, instead favoring new highway capacity over much needed repairs.

  6. 7


    The funny thing is that outside of a few informed political types, nobody knows what RTID is. I hope they keep calling it that so come November people will vote for Roads and Transit and wonder where their supposed to oppose “The RDIT”

    Also remember that voters rejected a 6.9 billion ST proposal in 1995 that went East and North. More then Seattle gets to vote on these things you know.

  7. 8


    Uh, Giffy, it will say RTID on the ballot, regardless of what all those shiny TV ads call it.

    And if the Sierra Club is so wrong politically, where are our leaders on this? Sims, Nickels, Chopp — all silent. Check out these great “endorsements” from Ed Murray and Mary Margaret Haugen —

  8. 9


    Sigghhh …

    This is not a problem of spin, it is a problem of failure of leadership.

    The region badly needs a long term plan for traffic that takes into account our odd, narrow shape, the apparent plant to turn Seattle into a high density bedroom, the continuing change in fule and road costs, etc. \

    Instead, as far as I can se, we are beign asked to vore for a paste-up that looks like a Ted Stevens PORK bill.

    I actually think pork is OK …. (as eating too) as long as it is at a low level that greases politics. BUT the size of the RTID package means that it will coopt other intitiatives.

    I admit to be utterly confused … but for now I will vote with the Sierra Club. Perhaps someone .. Gregoire or her Reprican candidate will decide to step forward and provide us all the leadership they claim to want t exercise.

  9. 10

    MichaelW spews:

    Bill at 4:

    I don’t think the legislature even needs to take action for Sound Transit to move forward next spring — the shotgun wedding with RTID is over once this election happens.

    The other option, under existing law, is that King County can move forward alone, and I have to believe that Sims, Phillips, and Constantine will do a much better job than John Ladenberg and Shawn Bunney.

    Think about what a green version of RTID would look like:

    * Tolls instead of general taxes

    * Maintenance and repair instead of expansion

    * Any expansion limited to HOV lanes

    It might even be carbon neutral, unite the environmental community, and do our part to save the planet. But you probably don’t care about global warming.

  10. 11

    Pete Coors spews:

    To MichaelW @ 10:

    Mike, you miss the point. Tolls and congestion pricing cannot happen without this vote. No one will force the region into congestion pricing if they do not have another option – i.e. LIGHT RAIL.

    The Sierra Club is being so short sighted.

    The other thing that needs to happen is the freight improvements on the south end of Seattle like – the South Park Bridge, Lander Overpass, Spokane Street Viaduct, etc.

    Why do they need to happen? So we can have our Surface/Transit option on the waterfront.

    If there is no freight corridor to I-5 from the Port, the Viaduct is needed to move containers in and apples out.

  11. 12

    Pete Coors spews:

    Mike @10

    One more thing:

    The environmental community IS united, except for the Sierra Club.

    One group that can’t follow deadlines and gets out manuevered by Will Knedlick and Kemper Freeman for the voters pamphlet.

  12. 13

    MichaelW spews:

    You think we can impose the biggest tax increase in history, and then go back to voters and ask for tolls on top of that?

    Far better to pay for the whole thing with tolls, including lots of transit and light rail. Actually serve the places where people will use it, like Fremont and Belltown, instead of the car dealerships in Fife.

  13. 14

    Heath spews:

    I think it would be wonderful if Gregoire pushed the road improvements through without light rail:

    1. Sound Transit RTID package wants to reduce I-90 lane width to a very dangerous 11 feet with no shoulders — in order to make room for rail. Talk about people who would be dying to make room for the rail!

    2. Getting people out of their cars is the wrong goal: getting people out of internal-combustion engine driven cars is the only goals that has a chance. I.e., electric cars and in the meanwhile plug-in-hybrids. The proposed RTID system cannot get people out of their cars because it does not provide enough variety of quickly-reachable destinations. In particular, the tie-in with bus service will be a deal-breaker for many.

    I’d like to see a rail system built that supports people parking their cars on the train — driving them into sideways parking on flatbed railcars. Then, the passengers can ride the car train to, e.g., Tacoma or Issaquah.

  14. 15

    scotto spews:

    Pete @ 11

    Are you arguing that it’s politically impossible to do relatively cheap improvements like the S. Park bridge unless they’re tied to a massive, climate busting highway bill?

    Are Seattle voters really that weak?

  15. 16

    bill spews:


    have you even read the plan?

    the “climate busting highway bill” includes

    transit lanes on the Spokane Street Viaduct

    closing the gaps in the HOV lanes on 167 in Kent – this is south of the center of the universe (Seattle) scotto, where the middle class (which Democrats are suppose to care about) live now that the average median house price in Seattle is $500,000

    new bike lanes on Mercer

    safety improvements to Hwy 18 and I-5 interchange

    new bus off ramp on I-5 at Industrial way

    Scotto, you haven’t read the plan have you?

  16. 18

    SeattleJew spews:

    Pete Coors

    Can you expand?

    Here are issues I would like to know more about:

    1. Is RTID payment in full for these projects and if not is there a plan for the full financing? Asking voters for a blank check is dumb,
    2. How does RTID deal with the long term need for high speed commercial highway transport in the Vanc BC::Portland corridor? We have very limited space between P Sound and the nountains, eventually there will be a need for a road. The longer we wait the harder this will be, the worse the effects on any future for manufacturing in this area (e.g. Boeing).
    3. Seattle’s surface road system is as bad or maybe worse than the cow paths I grew up with in Boston. We utterly lack major boulevards, other than the residential Lake Washington Boulevard, that other cities have to facilitate traffic. In the meantime, without a surface street plan, Seattle is adding 100,000 new homes downtown.
    4. Lessons form suburbia everywhere say that the era of the
    car is passing. We need some form of regional transportation far more extensive and well thought out than anything I have seen. The MSOFT express is a sad but good example of a piecemeal solution.

    Am I asking too much?

  17. 19

    Pete Coors spews:

    @13 – Thanks for showing your cards, Mike. This may be news to you, but Fremont really isn’t the Center of the Universe.

    If you are actually concerned about global warming and reducing lane miles, you’ll make transit available to those who travel the furthest.

    @15 – Where are you going to get money for the South Park Bridge when you need to replace the 520?

    Sometimes Sierra Club enviros think that buses don’t use roads. You know the express bus from West Seattle travels on the Spokane Street Viaduct…and gets stuck in traffic.

    The Roads and Transit package will widen the Spokane Street Viaduct with and HOV lane and allow the bus service to work more efficiently.

    You want a band aid solution…what we need is for more regional thinking. Commerce doesn’t work within only one zip code, neither does the ecosystem.

  18. 20

    Pete Coors spews:

    @17 My Chosen Friend

    Here are issues I would like to know more about:

    “1. Is RTID payment in full for these projects and if not is there a plan for the full financing? Asking voters for a blank check is dumb,”

    Read the plan. There is no blank check. If a project exceeds 20% of the budget, it goes back to the voters in that county.

    In the case of the 520, the $1B (or whatever the number is) is money that will go towards the bridge along with state, city(very little) and Federal coupled with tolls to reach the $4B cost of the replacement…a replacement that will be able to hold a light rail line BTW.

    “2. How does RTID deal with the long term need for high speed commercial highway transport in the Vanc BC::Portland corridor? We have very limited space between P Sound and the nountains, eventually there will be a need for a road. The longer we wait the harder this will be, the worse the effects on any future for manufacturing in this area (e.g. Boeing).”

    So you want to build the 605? I disagree with you on this one.

    3. Seattle’s surface road system is as bad or maybe worse than the cow paths I grew up with in Boston. We utterly lack major boulevards, other than the residential Lake Washington Boulevard, that other cities have to facilitate traffic. In the meantime, without a surface street plan, Seattle is adding 100,000 new homes downtown.”

    I agree. But the City needs to address this…the plan as it is written will help with the First Hill Streetcar that will connect the ID, First Hill and run the length of Broadway in Capital Hill.

    “4. Lessons form suburbia everywhere say that the era of the
    car is passing. We need some form of regional transportation far more extensive and well thought out than anything I have seen. The MSOFT express is a sad but good example of a piecemeal solution.”

    You’re right. We need a regional solution that 50 miles of light rail, 12,000 new park and ride spots, and bike lines are all part of the solution. As taken from http://www.yesonroadsandtransi.....nviro.html

    But as I’ve posted, even buses use roads…I would venture a guess that even Sierra Club members occassionally take a car to work.

  19. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Olympia will do something about 520 if local voters don’t. And if Sound Transit (the agency) goes away, that doesn’t mean Sound Transit (the already-built or under-construction rails) will be torn up.

    Since Sound Transit isn’t the best-managed of agencies, and all those smug Rossi-voting Bellevue Republicans basking in their air-conditioned SUVs in stalled traffic on 405 aren’t the most-deserving of commuters (they should’ve supported Gregoire and mass transit!), I can think of worse outcomes.

    In fact, I can’t think of a better one!

    Olympia politicians are far more likely than local governments to fund a 4-lane 520 rebuild and a few other essential projects, without all the political ornamentation in RTID/ST-2, and with a more fairly distributed tax.

    Thanks for coming up with the best argument so far for voting NO, Will!

  20. 22

    jim spews:

    Pete is spot on. Our Metro bus system will benifit tremendously from the Roads and Transit plan.

    And if you care about reducing global warming you ought to care about keeping buses from being stuck in traffic. Especially since Metro today carries over 300,000 riders everday and is the largest transit service in the state.

    Roads and Transit helps our buses.

    Spokane street transit lane
    Hov connection at 167/405
    HOV lanes on 520
    two way hov lanes on I-90
    new bus ramp off I-5 south of Seattle connecting to the bus tunnel

    read the plan before you post here.

  21. 23

    scotto spews:

    Jim @ 16.

    Some of it, yes. And the Sierra Club transportation committee has gone through it in excruciating detail. So have transportation wonks who work for Sims and Nickels — the faint to non-existent praise from these two politicos is damming.

    My turn: Will RTID make global warming better or worse?

  22. 24

    Heath spews:

    On the other hand, reducing the I-90 lanes to only 11 feet will get people out of their cars…. through fatalities.

  23. 25

    question? spews:

    Can someone from the Sierra Club please tell me why they are the only environmental group opposed to RTID?

    I don’t think that WCV, TCC, Audubon Society, etc are any less concerned with global warming, but they all seem to agree that RTID is the right step for right now.

    What does the Sierra Club know that these groups don’t?

    Or is this just political grandstanding by a group trying to differentiate itself from the multitude of other enviro groups out there?

  24. 26

    busdrivermike spews:

    Seattle voters get screwed on this package. Just look at it ferchissakes..!

    This is a huge bailout to the suburbs for bad urban planning. Eastsiders are the people who have been preaching about how the magic of the free market solves everything, and voting for Republicans who lower their taxes. Now they want Seattle to subsidized them.

    Eff em!

    When do I use 520 or SR-167? Hardly ever. It is nice there are so many liberals with money to burn, and willing to give money to the eastside. Wait, scratch liberals in that last sentence, insert “suckers”.

    Yes I know the arguments and the promises, but I also remember Sound Transit promising light rail to Northgate, and a station in Captitol Hill. Remember how Ron Sims said that if we passed the latest tax, so many buses would be running we would not need a schedule.

    So many promises unkept, so many out and out lies. And you know what? RTID will pass, because all government has to do is say transit, and people vote yes. Voters are like the piano playing chicken, just drop in a quarter(say transit) and the feed drops and the chicken pecks out chopsticks.

    Does all the money go to transit? Please… Sims admits they transfer transit funds to the general fund. Community Transit takes their funds, hires private bus companies, then pockets the difference.

    At least the chicken waits for some feed, you people keep voting to fund the same projects over and over.

  25. 27

    Piper Scott spews:

    SJ is correct…the whole mess is a failure of leadership. Read Emory Bundy’s essay at where points out how RTID is but the latest example of greased-palm pork and political back-scratching.

    On this issue, the right and the left will become temporary allies to defeat Prop. 1 (a recent prediction has it losing 65 – 35%), and then we’ll duke it out in the next round.

    Personally, I think light rail is 19th-Century thinking dolled up in post-modern rhetoric. Buses are more effecient. And since most people who vote on transportation projects think that they’re voting on a package to fix the roads upon which they drive, the more that’s known about Prop. 1, the less the voters will like it.

    We do need to fix what we have, then add what people – it’s a democracy, after all – actually want, which is road capacity.

    I’m content with tolls as part of the package, but I get queazy with talk of them as behavior modification devices; the libertarian in me finds that offensive.

    While we’re at it, any thoughts on whether using RFID technology to debit tolls electronically will further erode civil liberties? I know several Democrats in Olympia are very concerned about this issue.

    The Piper

  26. 28

    jim spews:

    Seattle gets screwed? Read the plan.

    • The Roads and Transit plan will widen and improve the Spokane Street Viaduct and build an overpass at Lander Street between First and Fourth Avenues, to make it easier for Metro buses to move through Seattle.

    • By improving Mercer Street, the Roads and Transit plan will ensure better mobility for buses, pedestrians and freight traffic.

    • And the Roads and Transit plan includes construction of a streetcar at First Hill and the extension of light rail to Northgate and beyond.

    oh and you have probably heard of the neat little light rail train that will be built between Seattle and Bellevue/Redmond on I-90. Under ST’s financial policies guess who covers 100% of those costs? The eastside, dumbass.

    You can stop driving your SUV from Mt. Baker to Microsoft and ride a train that will come every few minutes 20 hours a day thanks to our friends on the Eastside.

  27. 29

    SeattleJew spews:

    @25 can you expand on your comment on what this means for Seattle?

    Of course 520 (what is 167?) does serve both sides of the lake … the traffic flow over the last ten years has reversed, lots of folks sleep here and work on the Eastside now.

  28. 31

    ArtFart spews:

    26 “The traffic flow over the last ten years has reversed, lots of folks sleep here and work on the Eastside now.”

    It’s actually been that way for a long time. The growth of the Principality of Microsoft has made it worse.

  29. 32

    SeattleJew spews:

    @20 605

    I understand the concern about 605 but that means a non-plan. The reality is that commercial traffic between Vancouver BC and Portland will continue to grow if the economy does nto go toes up.

    That means to me that it will be cheaper to plan for that now.

    It is obvious that traffic through Seattle can not eh significantly increased. So, whether one calls it 605 or an enlarged 405, there is no question we will need top do this somehow.

    As for the Seattle answers they are good but piecemeal> take Mercer (please) … in the long run Seattle needs a plan that allows cross city traffic between Eliott and I5 (or even east of that). Mercer is really a kludge that offers hort term answers.

    The same is true for the assorted fixes on the South side. West Seattle as is true of Ballard do and always will have the problems that come with being across waterways. What I do not see is anything being considered about Seattle itself … except for Mercer. As of today the only way of getting from the UW to Beacon Hill is via the freeway or a spaghetti bowl of surface streets. This adds to the I5 problem. The same is true, other than Mercer, for almost any traffic going EW or WE.

  30. 33

    Piper Scott spews:


    167 is the highway running from Renton south (at least from where I sit), and it serves as a main thoroughfare to Kent, Auburn, Puyallup, etc.

    What’s scary about RTID is that it’s too “pig in a poke.” Lip service downpayments, bait and switch marketing tactics, and a financing scheme that, if sold to a consumer by a retailer, would violate the consumer protection laws…Something about the old doctrine of a holder in due course without knowledge that used to be used by unscrupulous merchants and financial institutions to deny consumers remedies in the event of fradulent transactions or shoddy goods.

    I think people of all political persuasions are simply pissed off about fake transportation solutions, policies, and abject failures of leadership. Yet watch for more “the sky is falling” wailing from those who support RTID; if we don’t vote for it, our children will somehow die, starve, or be denied entrance into the schools of our choice.

    A load of crap, if you ask me…

    The Piper

  31. 34

    OneMan spews:

    You guys forget all the freight that comes over 520 and up 167. The entire Kent Valley is filled with warehouses; how do you think their contents get there or to the stores?

    It’s the same deal with the Viaduct. Any replacement MUST support feeding the Port or it is a non-starter in my book.

    RTID is largely good. It has a lot of good projects in it. It is politically possible (because the agreements have been made). Yes there are arguably some bad parts to it. Overall, it’s better than yet another round of negotiations that are unlikely to materially change the projects. Meanwhile the infrastructure continues to crumble.


  32. 35

    busdrivermike spews:

    So there it is. Please, please tax me so the port can expand, and provide other people jobs. Please build a freeway from McChord AFB to Fredrickson. Tax me for that. Please, can I pay more taxes for light rail to Bellevue, because I always wake up on the weekend and say “I wonder what is happening in Bellevue today?”. Can we please spend $7 billion dollars to add an HOV lane on SR-520 because those poor suffering Microsofties want to live closer to Volterra?

    As for the Port, we pay plenty in taxes to support it. Maybe when the port chief isn’t being paid 330K a year, I might start thinking they do not have enough money.

    So, a new lane on Spokane street An offramp off of a collapsing bridge, or the new bridge. Light rail to nowhere(Bellevue). The promise of more light rail(more promises). Light rail to move UP TO 20hrs. a day(which could mean 0-19, or anything else they decide to define the promise as). Yes, I see the logic of paying half a percent more for everything I buy. How does this benefit the guy in Phinney ridge, or Maple Leaf, or Ballard, or Sand Point, or the Rainier Valley, or Top Hat, or South Park, or Georgetown or………….etc,etc,etc.

    RTID is a complete ripoff for most Seattlites.

  33. 36

    busdrivermike spews:

    Oh Yeah….don’t forget!

    Sound Transit is promising to build a train to Northgate, and a station in Capitol hill….

    AGAIN, Like they promised to the first time.

  34. 37

    busdrivermike spews:

    And there has only been two collisions on the rail so far.

    So you can be sure they know what they are doing.

  35. 38

    OneMan spews:

    @35: What is with you people? “If I can’t personally drive on it, I won’t fund it.” So much for the liberal idea of the “commonweal” in the sense of the common good.

    It’s a REGIONAL transportation package, for the REGION.

    We don’t get to fix all the problems with Seattle streets using REGIONAL money.

    I’m having a tough time being civil at this point. Maybe I’ll bow out of the conversation.


  36. 39

    busdrivermike spews:

    Should I mention that they designed the tunnel so anyone over five foot six inches tall has a chance of being hit in the head by right side mirrors of the bus.

    Yeah sure, I’ll mention the geniuses you guys are going to give billions of dollars to.

  37. 40

    busdrivermike spews:

    I know #38, it is hard not to get emotional when all these pesky facts get in the way the concept you are married to.

    I like to it…”getting all bush-ified”.

  38. 41

    scotto spews:

    question? @ 25, you’ve asked a good question ;)

    Yes, the other enviro groups you mention are concerned about global warming. I’ve also talked to Will, and it seems that he is also somewhat concerned. They are all good people. I could speculate, but I think it’s best to let them speak for themselves.

    The reason the Sierra Club opposes RTID has nothing to do with market differentiation (unlike other enviro groups, the decision makers are volunteers who don’t have salaries on the line). We’re opposing RTID because it is designed as if global warming — the biggest environmental and social justice problem we face — does not exist.

    Given what we know now, it’s time to stop pretending. We need to adjust politics to reality, instead of going along with RTID, which is trying to adjust reality to politics.

  39. 42

    busdrivermike spews:

    I guess that when you get to the point where you get in your car in Ballard, run over about a million potholes on the way to I-5 you can still “think regionally”. That is called denial.

    But then when you get across SR-520 and feel the “silent pavement” they put in on 520 in Medina(I’m sure that the placement of said test track is purely coincidental). Y’know Medina, that is where all the free marketeers(who never,ever will take transit) gather to give Bush a couple of million dollars every once in awhile.

    Then, at that moment, you tend to wonder why you are such an effing sucker. That is called an epiphany.

  40. 43

    OneMan spews:

    @42: so you’re saying if they’d put the “silent pavement” by your house you’d be all for RTID?

    Excellent reasoning.

  41. 44

    Piper Scott spews:


    You make a fair point about the Viaduct and its connection of the Port of Seattle…

    Still…RTID is a stink-bomb. The bad parts you acknowledge are akin to sticking a pint of vinegar in tanker truck of milk…the whole thing becomes sour.

    RTID isn’t just a complete rip-off for Seattlites, it’s a complete rip-off for taxpayers irrespective of where they live.

    Good intentions in bad law equal bad policy.

    The Piper

  42. 45

    scotto spews:

    bill @ 16,

    Compared to the rest of RTID, these good but modest projects are really cheap — easy to pass without being forced to accept, say, RTID’s sprawl inducing Cross Base Highway. Surely you recognize the glass beads…

  43. 46

    Piper Scott spews:

    On nearly every blog in town – left, right, center – the majority of posts are anti-RTID…What does that tell you?

    The Piper

  44. 47

    busdrivermike spews:


    That is it exactly. if RTID did one thing I could concretely say benefited me directly, I would vote for it.

    But it does not benefit me, or most people in Seattle. So I do not support it. I do not support it because it benefits the people outside of Seattle, yet they want Seattle to pay for it. Regionalism is how you choose to define it using freewill, or have politicians define it for you using politics. I do not like my money being used for bridges to nowhere in Alaska, or bridges to Fredrickson from McChord AFB. Since I have a say in one, I will say no.

    Sounds reasonable to me as I prefer my charity to go to Northwest harvest or CAYA, PLACES I CHOOSE to give money to.

    I believe this is excellent reasoning once you choose, using freewill, to educate yourself beyond the propaganda. It is also the definition of democracy.

  45. 48

    Piper Scott spews:

    One huge reason, well articulated by SJ, for this mess is that we the people have no real leadership when it comes to transportaion. Instead, there’s an overlapping cacophony of Balkan-like fiefdoms all overseen by petty tyrants looking to protect their turf or feather their nests.

    I’d like to see one regional transportation authority, elected by the people, with overarching governmental authority for all transportion policy and projects. Roads, transit, funding, long-term policy all from one place from one agency directly accountable to the people.

    Instead, what we have are competing turf fights and confusion from other issues. A lousy vote on transportation is overcome by an acceptable vote on funding a new Sonics arena or night club policing.

    Take all transportation decision making and put it under one roof. Surely, it would be an improvement over the cage-match of angry cats we have now.

    The Piper

  46. 49

    Pete Coors spews:


    How does it benefit Mapleleaf? I dunno, maybe a light rail stop in Ravenna and one in Northgate?

    How does it benefit people in the Rainier Valley? Maybe opening up places people can commute to by light rail from Tacoma to Bellevue to Everett?

    Sure, grasping the fact that frieght mobility actually has a day to day impact on your life can be a tough concept with people so fixated on their own life…but if trucking lines hauling containers out of the Port have to run more trucks because of traffic, you’re organic, fair-trade coffee will cost a few pennies more AND there will be more trucks on clogged streets.

    And you don’t get money from Woodinville to fix potholes in Ballard. Sorry.

    @44 If it is an easy fix, how do you think it will happen? It took 5 years to get everyone (Washington STate Labor Council, Washington Conservation Voters, Washington Roundtable) at the table…now you don’t think it’s quite perfect enough? What is the Sierra Club’s plan?

  47. 50

    busdrivermike spews:

    Oh, you mean the rail they promised to build LAST TIME!!!!

    Jeez…how many times do you have to get ripped off before you wake up?

  48. 51

    busdrivermike spews:

    But you do get money to fix freeways in Woodinville from people in Ballard. Sweet deal for you eastsiders who vote Republican under the mantra “the free market will fix all”.

  49. 52

    erheault spews:


  50. 53

    OneMan spews:

    @50: Great jeebus’ ghost. There are projects in the bill for Seattle. Sorry if they aren’t going to repave your street in gold but you don’t always hit the lottery.

    And hey, you could end up driving a bus in Redmond and suddenly the health of the 520 bridge will become much more relevant to your parochial little world.

    Or not. Stay in Ballard and suck your thumb for all I care.


  51. 54

    Jerramy Stevens spews:

    RTID is a terrible deal for Seattle taxpayers, for reasons independant of the “environmental” ones.

    RTID would ship billions of dollars from Seattle taxpayers over the lake to pay for new highway lanes in the I-405 corridor.

    The breakdown of how much RTID money gets spent where is on pages 30-32 of the RTID Blueprint for Progress (go to to get it). The amount of revenues the RTID taxes would raise during the first 20 years is shown on page 88.

    The taxes and bond debt that would be the responsibility of King County over that 20 years would be $8,503 million. Note that there still would be debt outstanding then, so additional hundreds of millions would still need to be collected AFTER that 20 year period. How much more, well, they aren’t giving us an estimate of that before the vote.

    The expenditures on projects in King County overall would be $5,380 million.

    Seattle taxpayers will contribute approximately half of the tax revenues raised in King County (we know that from ST’s experience). On page 31 of the RTID Blueprint for Progress there is a breakdown of what would get spent by RTID in Seattle. Taking half of the SR 520 and I-90 spending ($537 million), and adding in the “Seattle Mobility Project” (paving in front of Paul Allen’s developments in South Lake Union), plus the Lander St. Overpass and the South Park Bridge contributions (total: $547 million) gives a figure of $1,084 million.

    That’s it for Seattle spending by RTID. Over the first twenty years over $4,252 million would be taken from Seattle taxpayers, but only $1,084 spent here. The rest of the Seattle RTID tax dollars that are spent will go to roads projects east of Lake Washington.

    Why such a crappy deal for Seattle taxpayers? Because Seattle voters are idiots, and will vote yes for anything that says “trains” on it. Like a bunch of the posters here.

    Get a clue, kids. This one’s a stinker.

  52. 56

    busdrivermike spews:

    #52 oneidiot

    Due you ever argue issues on their merits, using facts to back it up?

    And if you want to throw emotional epithets my way,you know what you can suck, buddy.

  53. 57

    jim spews:

    Jeremy Stevens is a better tight end than transportation policy wonk.

    Seattle gets a light rail system on I-90 fully funded by eastside taxes.

  54. 58

    OneMan spews:

    @55: you ought to read the other posts for content. Everything for Seattle has been mentioned: Mercer street, South Park bridge, Spokane Street, Lander Street, HOV access lane south of Spokane Street, 520 Bridge (to say that doesn’t benefit Seattle is bullshit).

    You can argue that it doesn’t benefit you enough (like a fucking republican) but Just Fucking Stop with the “nothing for Seattle” schtick. It’s old. And Boring. And untrue.

    Listen, if you just want to kvetch and whine that’s fine but if you want to actually, like, discuss stuff, you should actually read the other posts and take their content into account.

    Just sayin’


  55. 59

    BrianJonestown spews:

    “That is it exactly. if RTID did one thing I could concretely say benefited me directly, I would vote for it.

    But it does not benefit me”

    Ahh…the typical self-centered Republican anti-rail idiot. Nicely done, busdrivermike.

    “I’d like to see a rail system built that supports people parking their cars on the train — driving them into sideways parking on flatbed railcars. Then, the passengers can ride the car train to, e.g., Tacoma or Issaquah. ”

    Behold, your typical anti-rail technologist nutball. Each one of these crazies has their own personal loopy idea. Now that their monorail is gone, it’s off to even more ridiculous endeavors, I guess.

    For more background on these morons, visit or

  56. 60

    BrianJonestown spews:

    Want to bridge the gap between the right wing anti-transit kooks and the technology kooks?

    STEFAN SHARKANSKY has just what you need:

    “(Emory Bundy’s) alternatives to wasteful rail spending: make more efficient use of existing road infrastructure, e.g. carpooling and congestion pricing of highways. (Along the same lines I would add encouragement of telecommuting and home-based work) and promote modern transit technologies, such as personal rapid transport.”

    ( In case you haven’t hurt your head on the Personal Rapid Transit phenomenon in the past, go here: )

    Or, even KEMPER FREEMAN:

    “PRT has meanwhile interested Kemper Freeman, Jr. Bellevue’s kingpin developer, and won such fans as state Sen. Leo Thorsness and county-executive candidate Suzette Cooke. ”

    Indeed, Kemper’s hired goon Bill Eager, the “brains” behind and the Eastside Transportation Association, has been pushing these loony ideas since the Nixon era:

    “First, while RTD was being organized, another PRT project was proposed for Denver. (The first proposed PRT had been the Center City Transportation Project CBD shuttle. ) The new proposal was UMTA’S “Demo B“ project, which would provide for construction and operation of a demonstration
    PRT system. In 1972 Dr. Robert Hemmes, Assistant Administrator for UMTA’S Research and Development program, announced that Denver would be the site for the “Demo B.”

    Meanwhile RTD hired an executive director, Harry Parrish, who was interested in PRT. RTD’s consulting team included Bill Eager, a p!anner who had previously worked for Boeing, which was developing its own PRT technology. Eager helped shape RTD’s “family of vehicles” concept, which called for use of new technologies where appropriate.
    During the same period a conference on PRT in the Denver area generated considerable enthusiasm about new-technology transportation systems.

    An additional factor favoring PRT was the movement to Denver of several advancedtechnology research and development firms, including Martin Marietta Aerospace and Transportation Technology, Inc., whose enthusiasm for developing new technologies may have added to the atmosphere in favor of new technology in Denver.”


    I’m wondering if there are any sane, non-fringe people out there who can offer up a decent argument against light rail, and basic road improvements? So far, Seattle seems to be overloaded with nutso critics whenever the issue of viable rail systems arises.

  57. 62

    BrianJonestown spews:

    Busdrivermike, I keep forgetting – you’re the liberal populist libertarian guy who just SOUNDS like a self-centered Republican. Sorry for the mix up.

  58. 63

    Polar Bears Against Prop. 1 spews:

    $ 10 billion for roads = $10 billion for CO2 = more congestion = less ice = less of us.

    Seattle, how could you?

  59. 64

    busdrivermike spews:


    Oh, that is OK. It happens all the time when I introduce those nasty things called facts into a sheeple’s argument.

    And I think the proper word in your post is “reads”, not “sounds”. Do you mix up your vocabulary often?

  60. 65



    Whatever names you want to call Mr. Stevens his analysis is very worrisome. Add to the rest that a good part of Seattle’s 1 billion is going to additonal subsidy for Paul Allan and I am worried!

    The I90 light rail is relevant but it seems to me that this does much more for the Eastside than it does for Seattle. One way of calculating this might be to look at the effect of I90 on property values. Which side’s property vlaue will increase more because of LR? I assume all of tha will go East.

    I am also a bit ocnerned about another issue .. a lot ofwhat is being spent on the Eastside seems to em to be very much local traffic. Relatively little of the spending in Seattle is that way even tough one can make the argument that moving people out of and into jobs in Seattle is a regional benefit.

    I KNOW and understand the argument that surface road support busses, but busses that serve spread ut suburbia in the Est .. aren’t those contra-productive to the environmental ideal of getting folks to cluster their homes more?

    I keep coming back to one thing. If Gregoire is Our Dear Leader, SHE should be the one to explain to us all why this is a good idea. In the absense of that this is starting look like a terible case of pork (and I am Jewish!).

  61. 66


    Piper ..

    NO I would NOT want an elected regional transportation board. I woud rather use the wasted dollars to provide free Lattes at Seattle Center.,

    The LAST thing I would support is yet one more god damned local elected body that NOONE ever understands well enough t vote on. WE need to get rid of idiotic, excessive elections for judged, election overseers, sherrifs, port commissioners, dog catchers, and get the folks who are lected to high office to do their effin jobs!

    CG or whoever can HIRE experts or use the UW’s resources to figger out what we need to do. The local polls, mayors and county exec, will always try t get ehat they canout of this. It is her damn job to mediate and then ‘splain what the shit id going on to the rest of us.

    I keep comng back to the same thing. Why does she want to be governor if she does not want to lead?

  62. 67

    Bax spews:

    Seattle taxpayers will contribute approximately half of the tax revenues raised in King County (we know that from ST’s experience).

    What is your source for this? There’s about 1.3 million people in the South and East King subareas for ST. And there’s about 600,000 in the North King (Seattle and Shoreline) subarea for ST. Can you provide a cite for this assertion?

  63. 68

    Piper Scott spews:


    Wow! I though people on the left were all for as much democracy as possible!

    When leaders don’t lead, the people act, hence the tremendous popularity of initiatives. I-25 will, the proposal for electing a King County Auditor, will pass in a walk with broad by-partisan VOTER support (Ron Sims hates it) because the people see KC Records and Elections as terminally broken.

    I’d like to see the bus part of Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit, the highway departments of King County, Seattle, other area municipalities, probably the WSDOT, all rolled into one agency with elected directors who then will set transportation policy, determine priorities, manage projects, develop financing schemes (taxing authority included), and anything else relative to transportation.

    It’s a stuck record…the interminable definition of insanity…walking in a circle…baying at the moon…The same “leaders” cut from the same bolt of cloth come up with the same (or similar) cockamamy proposals that always cost twice what they originally claim and never result in anything near what they promise…Nothing changes, so why must we stay with nothing?

    Folks from the Sierra Club can get behind a slate of director candidates on an ultra-Green platform. Kemper Freeman and his associates can support a more car-friendly platform. The Bussies and the Choo Choo’s can duke it out at the ballot box.

    Let the people decide.

    I think one thing you’ll see is a massive reduction in gobbledygook. The “Greek to me” complexity of proposals will be out of the hands of multiple layers of mixed-agenda politicos and their bureaucrat apparatchiks who thrive on deception, bait and switch, and lawyer-like obfuscation.

    The people will demand clarity and the truth…like we are now to no avail.

    On issues this close to the people, bring democracy closer to the people.

    As an aside…I’ve always wondered why the Seattle City Council is elected at-large and not by district. My gut tells me Seattle would get a better quality and class of government if council members ran in districts rather than city-wide. That’s just my gut talking, and it may be influenced by the green chile burrito I had as a midnight snack…

    Until real reform, NO on Prop. 1.

    the Piper

  64. 69

    chadt spews:

    Light rail is great!

    The Cross-base highway is crap enough to kill the whole package…

    I vote no.

  65. 70

    zilfondel spews:

    Seems like Seattle would be better suited to spending its money on repairing roads and bridges, and building a comprehensive lightrail & subway system – a system that could get a LOT of people out of their cars, not just a measly 160,000. Hopefully the light rail system being built now will function like a subway.

    What I don’t get is how expensive it must be to expand freeways in the region, as its so built up already. I saw the widening through Tacoma a few months ago and was shocked – I don’t even want to know how much it cost.