It didn’t take a genius to figure out the strategy of the anti-rail/pro-roads camp. Of course, they wanted most of the proposals in the RTID package — and more — but they knew they’d get most of it without Prop 1… eventually. So while cockeyed optimists like Josh and Erica appear buoyant at the prospect of a transit-only measure appearing on the ballot sometime this decade, “Plan B” is moving quickly apace. And yes, there always was a Plan B, as outlined in an editorial Sunday in the Seattle Times:
- Highway 520 has to be redone before it falls into the lake. While redoing it, it must be expanded to accommodate traffic to job centers in Bellevue and Redmond. Pay for it in part with tolls.
- Replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, either with a new structure or a sensible surface option.
- Perhaps extend light rail to Northgate. The density is already there, but this may have to wait until the first light-rail line opens.
- In Snohomish County, do key interchanges to Interstate 5, expand Highway 9 and improve Highway 2. Pick only the must-dos.
- Pierce County: Do Highway 167. Make that the priority.
- Bring on congestion pricing to change motorist behavior at peak times. In other words, get the most out of roadways we already have.
Huh. Sounds pretty much like the bulk of the major projects from RTID, with the Viaduct thrown in for good measure. As for light rail, perhaps we should extend it to Northgate… you know, if we can get beyond the fiscal reality that Sound Transit lacks sufficient taxing authority to even bond the half-billion dollar a mile project from revenues in the Seattle sub-area alone.
If I were to make a proposal like this, I’d just be talking out of my ass, but the Times editorial board has always been an official organ of the Eastside political establishment, so I’m guessing it was pretty well vetted before publication. And the very next day, surprise….
Now that Puget Sound-area voters have killed the ambitious roads and transit plan outlined in Proposition 1, the state will take back responsibility for replacing the state Route 520 Bridge, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday.
“I’ve already asked the Department of Transportation and the Office of (Financial Management) to come up with a new financing plan,” Gregoire said. “We will split off from the Regional Transportation Improvement District, because the 520 Bridge can no longer wait. It needs to be replaced.”
Gregoire said she wants to keep her commitment to begin construction on the 520 replacement by 2012.
If you think the timing is just some lucky coincidence, I’ve got a floating bridge to sell you.
The Kemper Freemanites’ opposition to rail wasn’t just ideological, it was politically pragmatic, for with light rail extension effectively killed for the foreseeable future, that frees up additional tax and toll revenues for other items on their asphalt wish list. They might not get everything they want — the Cross-Base Freeway and the mythical I-605 will likely never see the light of the day — but they’ll get most of what they want, including “hot lanes” and congestion pricing for those who can afford it. Meanwhile, we’ll buy a few buses, append the “Rapid Transit” suffix, and tell the common folk they’re getting a good deal for their money. Sweet.
But then, what do I know? I’m just some dumb blogger, not a savvy political strategist like those polar bear clad geniuses at the Sierra Club and their fellow travelers at The Stranger.