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Trans-poor-tation 4: A mighty toll order

We've laid out our priorities. Now it's time for the vision thing. In a word: tolling.
Is a regional tolling system the answer to our transportation prayers?

Is a regional tolling system the answer to our transportation prayers? Photo: Flickr user Rusty Clark

Any transportation revenue and spending package should lay a firm foundation in policy, making plain the overall direction in which the program is headed. What will we build, demolish, fix, retrofit and modernize, in order to make the transportation system as efficient as possible in meeting a broad set of needs.? And how will we pay for it?

In Parts one, two and three of this series, we laid out top priorities for investment. In this final installment, we’d like to focus on one important part of the money question: tolling.

If done with good judgment and modern approaches  — a big if — tolling holds promise as a way to manage and lessen congestion on crowded highways — and generate some precious revenue in the process. The right approach to tolling is a fair and efficient way to allocate highway capacity when it is scarce. Scarcity is a congested road.  Using scarce capacity more efficiently is also the key to an environmentally sensitive transportation policy, conserving the landscape from more pavement, saving fuel and minimizing polluting emissions.   

Tolling harnesses principles rooted in the powerful dynamic of individual free choice and free markets. If you want to buy premium speed and reliability for an I-5 trip in high-demand (rush hour) times, you’ll pay for it, and the fluctuating price will make sure the roadway handles all the vehicles it can without traffic collapsing into bumper-to-bumper paralysis. We citizens, by responding to price as the tool to balance supply and demand, can help assure that the highway offers a reliable and speedy trip.

In recent years, the state legislature has shown plenty of interest in tolling for revenue potential. But transfixed by the siren song of revenue, lawmakers have ignored tolling’s potential for both good and bad outcomes when it comes to the efficiency of traffic flow and traffic patterns. So far every tolling plan lawmakers have adopted has been piecemeal: along part of the I-405 corridor. On SR 520. On I-90 to help pay for 520. On the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. For the Alaskan Way tunnel. The package currently being debated in Olympia would add a tolled lane, or lanes, along several miles of I-5 to help bankroll enhancements to SR 167 and SR 509, which may also see piecemeal tolled segments.

This habit of throwing up a little piece of tolling here and a little piece there is obsolete by at least a decade. It gives tolling a bad name, and deservedly so, by guaranteeing a hopeless tangle of policy, traffic and finance. This approach baffles and antagonizes citizens, frustrates intelligent roadway capacity management and shortchanges tolling’s potential as a financing tool.

That’s why it’s important for lawmakers to take action on a transportation package this year and to make sure that package contains a clear declaration that the state will move toward an intelligent, integrated, system-tolling program for the heavily traveled corridors in central Puget Sound. The plan should provide a general statement of what that system will eventually look like, and commit to supporting the program with dollars to assure adequate planning and a phased program of expenditure for implementation that will bring the system to fruition. 

In other words, it’s time for the legislature to lay out a vision for system tolling. 

Taking the tolling pledge

No tolling plan will work unless we navigate to a clear, overarching vision. That vision can’t just be about money. Revenue generation is helpful — and seductive. But as the legislature’s ill-conceived tolling scheme for the viaduct replacement tunnel project illustrates, putting tolls solely in service of revenue can push drivers unnecessarily onto alternate routes, which only makes traffic problems worse and, in the case of the SR 99 tunnel, would lead to underuse of an expensive new facility.

For more efficient roadway use, toll pricing must vary according to traffic conditions, helping to balance supply (roadway space) and demand (traffic). We want a system that keeps traffic moving and deters overcrowding and traffic jams on the tolled lanes.  


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Comments:

Posted Fri, May 17, 6:54 a.m. Inappropriate

Well, MacDonald is right about one thing, this year's Tranportation Plan courtesy of Inslee, Clibborn, Constantine and company is a loser, vote it down. It's time to invest in maintenance, capacity and throughput. Federal money? You bet. Local taxes? It's going to be needed. 10 cents a gallon gas tax increase coupled with $150.00 per ten thousand of valuation MVET and tolling? No. Why did MacDonald avoid saying how the 167 project has never paid for itself? The 405 Hot Lane "pilot project" will cost $68 Million dollars to install and 8 million in M&0?

MacDonald need to concentrate on all of the process changes needed at the State DOT and the Legislative process to streamline the process and reduce the costs involved in repairing and developing Transportation Infrastructure. Thus far the State has been an overpriced monopoly with a myopic focus on transit and social control

Cameron

Posted Fri, May 17, 7:40 a.m. Inappropriate

"Tolling harnesses principles rooted in the powerful dynamic of individual free choice and free markets."

So every person on the road during rush hour has free choice of what time they have to be at work or school, and what time they can drop off and pick up their kids? I have free choice to tell the person on night shift waiting for me to relieve them so they can go home to just wait another couple of hours so I don't have to pay a higher toll?

The vast majority of commuters don't have a lot of choice when it comes to what time they have to be at work. It's kind of scary that a former Secretary of Transportation doesn't understand this fundamental fact about commute habits, but it explains a lot about how the DOT is making its decisions.

talisker

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Exactly, Talisker! The only "vision" tolling proponents have is of the money that will flow into their pockets as they foist yet another misbeggoten idea on the suffering taxpayers.

The industry around transportation is just another industry like all the others, devoted to perpetuating itself at any cost. It ignores, at all of our peril, that people will simply avoid tolled roads, notwithstanding what I infer is the writer's intent to make that impossible by tolling every road.

There are other approaches that would not send the dollars flowing into this industry and that would address congestion and maintenance issues: insist that businesses allow their workers to telecommute; in fact create incentives for it. Insist that businesses initiate staggered shifts where possible so that the current near-gridlock is eased by requiring fewer people to be on the same roads at the same time. Charge those who choose to drive huge trucks and SUVs a lot more in licensing or weight-based surcharges that reflect the greater wear their choice is causing on the roads. Get over the fantasy that people will choose to live in rat warrens of cubicles so they can walk to work when they have families who need open space and fresh air. And get over the fantasy that that demand can be met by forcing people to leave their homes in order to meet those needs. Recognize that this area has reached, and exceeded, its carrying capacity, and start advising potential newcomers accordingly. Let go of the fantasy that we can continue to grow without completely sacrificing those attributes that make this place unique. Understand that conformity with practices that work in other places ignores the differences between here and there, and work to preserve here. Sameness and ubiquity are not necessarily virtues, and our crazy civic striving to be like somewhere else is just that--crazy.

mspat

Posted Fri, May 17, 1:34 p.m. Inappropriate

Charge those who choose to drive huge trucks and SUVs a lot more in licensing or weight-based surcharges that reflect the greater wear their choice is causing on the roads.

FACT: An SUV does no more damage to pavement than a bicycle does. 99% of all vehicle-related pavement damage is done by heavy trucks and buses. If you actually care about pavement damage (as opposed to, say, getting a smug thrill out of bashing SUVs, heaven forbid) then you should be calling for the riders of buses to pay a surcharge for the damage their vehicles do to city streets.

http://tinyurl.com/vehdamage

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 1:36 p.m. Inappropriate

Whenever I hear government proposals to "harness the power of the market" I get really nervous. Government has, time and again, demonstrated its capacity to understand nothing about markets, and so these proposals usually boil down to "punish the people with taxes for doing something popular." As "talisker" points out above, the vast majority of people stuck in rush hour traffic would not be there if it was reasonably within their power. And so the "market" decision as to whether to participate in the rush hour is a highly distorted one, on a totally different plane than the decision to, say, spend money to attend a ballgame at the ballpark rather than stay home and watch it for free on TV.


I'm also worried about the recent trend in government to charge "user fees" for core government services. If money is so tight that the government cannot support parks, libraries, roads, etc., without "user fees", where is all the money going? Is it merely the fact that lobbyists can't make a living advocating for core government services, or have our wise solons in Olympia (and DC) so lost touch with their mission that they are drawn nihilism rather than responsibility?

All in all, this series has been well-reasoned and interesting. And I applaud the author for not endorsing the Big Brother GPS-based tolling system that the state has been playing around with for a decade. But having Good-to-Go RFID chip readers along all our highways and arterials is only marginally less a violation of our privacy, and the issue of privacy must be addressed in any ubiquitous automated tolling system. So far, that issue has not been addressed at all.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, May 17, 4:09 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey talisker, anyone who names himself after one of my favorite malts has to be okay. Anyway, I see it like this: There are numbers, and there are words. The "progressives" in local and state government want the numbers (i.e., our dollars) anyway they can get 'em. They'll try any combination of words that they think will cause us to lower our guard.

So this is done in the name of fighting congestion, or letting the free market work? No way. They're looking for the right abaracadabera to utter so they can get our money. It's all blah-blah-blah. They just want the money, period. End of story.

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 20, 11:18 a.m. Inappropriate

The pricing signals on tolling flow throughout the economy. If an employer has trouble attracting workers because of the tolling they will adjust shifts. That is what has happened elsewhere. Some employers won't have that flexibility, but peak hour tolls will be less, because those employers that have will have reduced the demand at peak-hour and the price-premium the state can get.

Bars have this problem. They can only seat and serve so many people at once. So what do they do? Happy Hour, where drinks are discounted, to shift some of the demand they can't accomodate because of finite capacity to a time when they can serve that demand. What do drinkers do? Some shift when they drink. Many don't because they can't get off work that early, are willing to pay a premium for the preference to drink later, etc. It's not an exact parallell, since you don't have to drink (unless you are an alcoholic) like you have to work, but you get the idea.

You would see the same thing happening under a variable or congestion tolling system. Day-cares will shift hours. Employers will vary shift begining and end times to the extent they can. Some won't because they can't or becuase its not practical, but they will benefit from the ones that do, as peak commute capacity is preserved.

So it is not the inflexible, undynamic, zero-sum game that you portray it as. It works in places like London, Coppenhagen, etc. that are very egalitarian, communitarian, and concerned for the low-income in ways that the U.S. is not. The paradox is that they are embracing free-market pricing principals to preserve those values.

Posted Mon, May 20, 11:45 a.m. Inappropriate

The urge to toll the roads in Seattle has nothing whatsoever to do with mitigating congestion. In fact, the city government is trying to increase road congestion in the city as part of its war on cars and drivers.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Scarcity of land. Perhaps part of the answer for vehicles is to build parking structures in the air spaces across all the lanes of I-5, 405 and 167 every 20 miles or so, with buses coming and going thru those parking garages 24/7. Build some fast food, dry cleaners, coffee shops, auto repair shops and other services so true efficiency happens, and more people are around for security. The true efficiency of the promise of Park & Rides has never been truly met in our region, because the war on cars has pretty much denied intelligent people access to creating something better.

This is unlikely to ever happen, but I just wish we could pull out the bureaucrats & electeds out of the decision making, planning and building of the infrastructure systems we end up having to endure. Privatize all the transit, highways and ferries. Sure, perhaps our $$$ costs would go up, but my guess is we'd all be moving in whatever way we wanted to pay for. Moving. Mobility. Progress. Freedom.

In general, I don't mind mass transportation. What I mind is being force-fed the massive wasteful projects that take our precious money to build albatross projects such as the 2-mile/$4-billion-and-climbing-bore-tunnel and massively-expensive-light-rail that moves so few people that even the 5th graders could figure out it isn't sustainable, and doesn't even meet the current mobility needs for our region. Of course, 5th graders are proven to be smarter than bureaucrats and politicians.

Read all the comments from the this series of articles. The public, the commenters - have ideas that are far better than the so-called experts who are being paid with our public dollars. No one is supportive of what is currently happening, except those who are paid to be supportive.


Posted Fri, May 17, 9:59 a.m. Inappropriate

Sounds like these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorway_service_area

Posted Fri, May 17, 1:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Three days ago, I returned from a trip to the U.K., during which I drove about 700 miles on the motorways. The service areas are no different than the plazas on the Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, and Maryland tollways, and the developments near countless Interstate freeway exits elsewhere. Add it all up, and American travelers have many more services on our near the freeways than the British do. People who go on about how Europe does it so much better tend to be people who don't get out a lot.

Their motorways have pluses and minuses relative to ours.

1. Drivers are better. Much better. Slowest traffic is in the slowest lane. Fastest traffic is in the fastest lane. Wow, who knew?!

2. Speed cams notwithstanding, they drive nice and fast. Most of the time, I had the cruise control at 75 mph in the middle lane. Sometimes 80, and a few times 85, 90, or 95.

3. U.S. limited access freeways have shoulders on both sides of the travel lanes, at least in standard configuration. The U.K.'s motorways have one shoulder on the slow side, and a half-shoulder (if any) on the fast side. You don't want to have a breakdown on a U.K. motorway.

4. Signage is much, much better on American highways of all levels. A British highway doesn't have signs telling you what road you're on. Rarely is there a compass-directional sign. It is much easier to get lost on a British motorway than on a U.S. highway, even if you have a map and have gotten used to the mirror-image thing with cars and roads.

5. Pavement is in much, much, much better shape there. I'm not sure if this is because of high gas taxes, or (more likely, I'd bet) because they don't have the heavy trucks we do. It's buses and (especially) ultra-heavy trucks that do all of the vehicle-related pavement damage. I saw two, count 'em two, double-trailer semis in two weeks of motorway driving, and they were significantly smaller than double-trailer trucks here.

6. Ingress and egress to limited access roads is much better here. In the U.K. there are fewer exits, hardly any cloverleafs (in case you overshoot and want to to come back), and many more highly confusing and congested roundabouts. Massachusetts is the only state with lots of roundabouts, which they call rotaries. They are infamous, and I doubt a new one has been built in 30 years.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 8:57 a.m. Inappropriate

Just as a point of fact- Washington State (you know, where we live) has been building roundabouts at a frantic pace since 1997.
120, in 15 years or so. Thats 2 more than the 118 they have in Ma.
In fact, when I go to my nearest Home Depot, I have to transit THREE of them in rapid succession.
There are at least a half dozen of them within 20 miles of my house.
DOT is building roundabouts on many new I5 exit/entrance ramps.
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Safety/roundabouts/washingtons.htm

And yes, they have them in King County, too- in Issaquah, Fall City, Duvall, North Bend, and more.

You Seattle "regressives" need to get out more. Leave mom's basement once in a while...

Ries

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:57 p.m. Inappropriate

Hmm, learned something new then. I do a whole lot of driving here and elsewhere, but obviously haven't been everywhere in the state. I'm no fan of roundabouts, but I can see the arguments for them if the signage is right. The ones in the U.K. have piss-poor signage. I realize that people get accustomed to whatever signs they're given, and tried to allow for that when I was there. But man, when you combine the mirror imaging with a lack of compass directions, the U.K.'s roundabouts were tough.

I have lots of experience navigating rotaries in Massachusetts, and people there just hate 'em. With good reason.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 10:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Reis,

There are no roundabouts IN Seattle, so why suggest that Seattles' regressives run out to North Bend, West Lake Sammamish, Fall City Road or Novelty Hill Road to check 'em out ... none of those areas have anywhere close to the kind of density traffic that I-5, 405, I-90, Aurora etc have.

I've been on just one of those Eastside roundabouts .. the one at West Lake Sammamish is a nightmare. Slow drivers too hesitant to move forward for fear they are doing something incorrect.

Posted Tue, May 21, 7 p.m. Inappropriate

Ha! And you know how they do it? By having gas taxes quadruple what we have here in Wa. What? You expect we're going to do this with vapors or something. Complain about the usual state of transportation, marvel at the EU solutions, and gracefully ignore how they pay for it. Priceless logic!

Treker

Posted Fri, May 17, 6:36 p.m. Inappropriate

Maybe, but I see nothing that involved over-the-highway parking garages for Park & Rides with services surrounding them.

No need to buy more land when we can just build above.

My point mainly is that the highest allocation of dollars currently are not being spent to maintain the infrastructures we already have inplace. Instead, they crumble, while the the highest allocation of dollars is going to build pie-in-the-sky-ultra-expensive-commuter-trains-to-nearly-nowhere-and-a-bore-tunnel-that-we-just-cannot-afford.

Sustainable is a joke, the new meaning of the word 'sustainable' is spend-spend-spend. The monies spent on mass transit, multi-modal programs are going to bankrupt this region, all in the name of what? Forcing people out of their cars? Insanity.

Sustainable used to mean "don't spend". I think it's morphed, now in 2013 it actually means "give us all of your money, this is a stick-up".

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:02 p.m. Inappropriate

I don't think your parking garage idea will save any money, but if it did, fine. I agree with you about everything else, though. As soon as I hear the word sustainable I move my wallet to my front pocket.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:31 a.m. Inappropriate

This article is an opinion piece, although it is presented as a Transportation news article.

As Washington state seems to be 15 years behind California, we have the advantage of predicting the future based on what happened/is happening there: the state's transportation department will continue to consolidate power until it controls every aspect of life. It will push and grind and grow until the state collapses financially under the incredible burdens of bonds, salaries, studies and all the etc.

Attention Crosscut Journalists: Please challenge the people and organizations you are covering. When a person stands on a box and pontificates the 'hows and whys', knock them off and look inside the box.

Posted Sat, May 18, 7:53 a.m. Inappropriate

After spending 10 years in California and now being back for six, I would tend to agree, but consider 15 too generous - I think it's more like 25-50. California is Washington's future and if I didn't have to give NotFan a dollar for using the "p-word" it probably would fit. (In fact, NotFan - I'll give you $5 if you stop using the word for a month. It immediately cuts the value of your comments in half.)

tvjames

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:05 p.m. Inappropriate

"Progressives" hate to be lampooned. They have come to think that they are the only people allowed to be critical. When they have their nastiness served right back, they get all whiny about it. Too bad. As for the "value" of my comments, who are you kidding? The "progressives" of Seattle will never, ever consider opposing views, however those views are delivered. They are stuck on stupid, and always will be. Might as well insult 'em. They richly deserve it.

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 18, 4:32 p.m. Inappropriate

Depends. Are you here to be a troll or are you here because you want your voice to be heard? I often think you have some salient points and I suspect I'm closer to you politically than most of Corsscut's readers but if your goal is to simply insult people then all you do is push them away from your point of view, thus invalidating anyone with similar views who want to engage in discourse.

So... Are you a troll? If not, I challenge you to go one month without using the word "progressive" - it cheapens you and all of Crosscut.

tvjames

Posted Sat, May 18, 5:18 p.m. Inappropriate

Always fun to see a "progressive" like you trying to tell other people what and what not to say or do. What is it about Seattle's "progressives," anyway? You really can't stand it when someone makes clear that they regard your group as a bunch of complete phonies. I mean, look at you, even willing to portray yourself as otherwise in agreement with me if only I'll stop ridiculing this city's ruling "progressive" elite. If there's one thing you cannot handle, it's ridicule.

Oh, and "troll." That's a favorite of both the far-right wingers at places like Freerepublic.com and the "progressives" at places like the Daily Kos. On the Internet, a "troll" is anyone who a wingnut or a "progressive" disagrees with. You don't like what I have to say? Tough luck. I didn't exactly expect you to.

p.s.: I'm not cheap, I'm free. Same for you, bud.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:34 a.m. Inappropriate

"Smart planning"

Worse than "new and improved". Smart planning is a marketing term, and should never be used by planners or bureaucrats or elected people.

Look around. There is no such thing as smart planning in our regional transportation/highway/ferry services. We have an unaffordable mess, created by the war on cars, created by people who have embraced the war on cars and spent our maintenance monies on new projects that are the opposite of smart.

Just because the funding process has been poor regarding maintenance, doesn't support new projects. There is only so much money to go around, and it's been wastefully spent.

Posted Fri, May 17, 4 p.m. Inappropriate

The "progressives" have an ever-growing list of buzzwords. Whenever you hear the following, watch your wallet: stakeholder, world-class, vibrant, walkable, urban. And now, smart. Anything described as smart inevitably has a greedy developer teamed up with the usual "progressive" suspects, and will quickly seek your money to buy that "intelligence."

Smart tolls. Come on, folks. You're hard up for cash and you want our money. Here's the deal: As soon as you, 1) have bicyclists pay the same vehicle fee that a motorbike pays, and 2) use all gas tax money for roads, and take nothing out of other funding mechanisms, we can talk. See, were not stupid enough to be "smart."

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Intelligent, long-term vision and commitment. That is indeed a toll order for the legislature, particularly this year.

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:53 a.m. Inappropriate

From Pauline, NYC, courtesy of the NY Times comments.

*******************************************************************
Pauline NYC NYT Pick

Driving from NYC to eastern Long Island today, I was struck by something I have often noticed. Traffic moving smoothly on a 4-lanes Expressway until 3 pm precisely, when HOV hours kick in, when traffic instantly shudders to a stop/start halt.

Why? Because the "policy shift that induces people to" drive with 1+ passengers is a failure. An empty HOV lane tools happily along while the other three scowl in bottlenecked irritation.

Good sense and productive road use forsaken for the virtue of oil thrift, and one highway lane sacrificed to Behavioral Inducement. It will never work, but we must dedicate ourselves to the virtuous ideal.

Instead of opening up more opportunity for people to use less gas -- convenient public transport, clustered work/live communities, car pool points, mini-jitneys, plug-in smart-cars -- government's Calvinist urge to enforce their version of virtue trumps effective policy and workability.

I believe it's the same urge to induce/enforce subjective ideals of "virtue" that underlies the IRS and Justice Department actions. Does membership in government encourage aggressive moral superiority? Or is it just that bossy, virtue-wielding types who think they know what's right for others go into in the first place?

Either way, it's about time the rest of us took them down a peg or two. Some healthy boundaries for our government virtue-mongers wouldn't hurt a bit, and might relieve the rising stench of hypocrisy in which we are living.

Posted Fri, May 17, 3:50 p.m. Inappropriate

We live in one of the more puritanical corners of America, which is a deeply puritanical country. The Seattle "progressives" are constantly trying to reform someone else's lives. The traditional victims -- single women, gays, pot smokers -- are protected, so the "progressive" puritans simply seek out different ones to bear the brunt of their deep-seated frustrations. Car drivers, tobacco smokers, homeowners, neighorhoods.

It's a shame that Seattle, once a citadel of the Western "live and let live" spirit, has become such a "progressive" Calvinistic redoubt.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 11:53 a.m. Inappropriate

I was ready to pounce all over Doug's tolling dissertation from the first sentence, having watched how Washington has been flirting with the concept for a decade now, with crappy results.
Just look at the HOT lanes on SR167. No net revenue has been produced after expenses are deducted. That's just insane as a revenue source, but OK to let some well healed commuters dash down the HOV lanes.
The bridges are better generators of cash, but have very high costs associated with collecting the revenue - 30% or more. It may be an efficient way to convince drivers to find another route, or maybe even a different job, but sending so much cash to outside vendors to count the beans for us is very inefficient compared to conventional taxing structures.
Now, if drivers on a tight budget or with time on their hands can use general purpose lanes for free, and those that put a higher premium on time can pay for express lanes, then I'm all in. It was the PSRC vision of tolling everything that really got my hackles up.

007

Posted Fri, May 17, 3:17 p.m. Inappropriate

".. Using scarce capacity more efficiently is also the key to an environmentally sensitive transportation policy," Mr. MacDonald should have acknowledged the fact that the tolling on the 520 bridge is handled in a very unsophisticated way. When traffic on 520 is scattered like ten day bike racers there must be a mechanism to automatically lower the tolls. The tolls should fluctuate. Instead it seems that there has only been one adjustment in the tolls and that was to raise the price even when there were too few customers. The price should be adjusted to get the 520 bridge to near capacity... there has to be a price that would accomplish just that. At some point the price would be attractive enough to lure a critical mass of drivers. I think that price would also, not coincidentally, return the most money to the State. Is there something in the enabling legislation that prohibits "marketing"? is this as stupid as it looks?

kieth

Posted Fri, May 17, 3:46 p.m. Inappropriate

I like that idea, but only if it's extended to all transportation modes. Bus fares should be adjusted on the fly depending on how full the vehicle is. "Hey! It's rush hour, and that'll be $10. Why? Because we can!"

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 3:55 p.m. Inappropriate

That's how it's done on the SR-167 "Hot" lanes (carpool lanes you can buy your way into) and it seems to work pretty well. Although the tolls don't jump to $10, just between about 50 cents and $2.50.

dbreneman

Posted Fri, May 17, 4:02 p.m. Inappropriate

And how much money does this generate after costs? Zero. It's entirely a "progressive" means of harassing drivers. And how do you know how "well" it works, anyway? What's the point of a "carpool" lane if someone can "buy" their way into it? When you do something like that, you turn the government into a highway robber. I suppose it's appropriate, given the whole way of "progressive" operation.

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 18, 8:10 a.m. Inappropriate

" And how do you know how "well" it works, anyway? What's the point of a "carpool" lane if someone can "buy" their way into it?"


I know it works well because there is roughly the same amount of traffic in the carpool lane on 167 as there is in the carpool lanes on I-5 and I-405. And if I want to buy my way into the carpool lane as a solo driver, what's wrong with that? There's nothing holy and sacred about carpool lanes. In fact, they're a cynical exercise in intentional hypocrisy. Is a mother with a baby in a car seat a carpool? Is a dad taking a bunch of kids to the little league game a carpool? They don't remove any additional cars from the freeway, do they? Why should they get to use the carpool lane? Why should a cop get to use it unless his lights and siren are on? Why should an out-of-service bus get to use it? The carpool lane should be limited to vehicles with two or more licensed drivers on board if there is to be any justice in the concept at all. If I can drive like the privileged class of "virtuous" citizens for a buck and a half I'm going to do it. I'm just playing along with the morally bankrupt system.

dbreneman

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Carpool lanes should be discontinued, then. I oppose tolling except for purpose of paying for new road construction. The minute we approve tolls for any other purpose, we step across a line that shouldn't be crossed.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 6:37 p.m. Inappropriate

Exactly. Stupid? Well maybe it would be more charitable to call it very out-daed and inefficient,

Posted Fri, May 17, 6:57 p.m. Inappropriate

C'mon D.B. MacD, you can't expect stupid to be called something else.

I think it is definitely stupid that the cost of the DOT-desired tolling equipment can't even break-even, let alone turn a profit. The meaning of stupid does mean stupid.

It's not an "investment in our future" when we continually see money being spent on things that will never, ever come close to penciling out.

The opposite of smart tolls is stupid tolls. I'm sure you realize that.

Posted Sat, May 18, noon Inappropriate

It's corruption, plain and simple. Washington State has never been especially honest.

NotFan

Posted Fri, May 17, 6:43 p.m. Inappropriate

I agree. If the DOT hired some experienced salespeople, surely they could up the income produced from the tolls.

good-to-go staffers must know their jobs may be on the line. I was able to get some late fees waived because their computer system was not working properly, which is a continual problem.

And by the way, let's talk about those abusive $40 late fees for a toll-fee of less than $5 or $6. Since when is the state involved in Guido-usurious tactics? Next, they will come to our houses and beat us senseless in front of our families and neighbors? But it'll be ok, theys' the gub'mint don't cha know?

Posted Fri, May 17, 8:23 p.m. Inappropriate

Deleted

Jan

Posted Fri, May 17, 9:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Jan: For our sake, I hope you are wrong.
How many former DOT Chiefs are willing to keep working on their own dime for better choices? None, that come to my mind. If you check, I think Mr.Mac is mostly a bus rider nowadays.
Here's the deal. 90% of all trips are taken in automobiles. An extra million or so people are on the march to move here in the next generation and we're broke. Those sobering statistic aren't going to change much in 20-30 years.
Keeping what we have to accommodate the cars is job one. Job two is to manage the demand of those and the new cars through whatever works and is cost effective. (so far, tolling is not very appealing and our light rail project is a huge disappointment). Construction of new capacity will be needed as growth dictates where it belongs.
Job three is shining the light of day on this subject and offering constructive solutions, which just happened in this four part series.
Thank you Crosscut.

007

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:13 a.m. Inappropriate

I agree, this was a very useful series. The fundamental problem is gas tax revenue does not currently produce enough cash flow to keep the roads in repair. In other words, we overuse a resource (like I5) that wears out because that resource is priced below replacement/repair cost.

This lack of cash flow is likely to get worse in the future as care mileage goes up, and especially if hybrids or electric vehicles become more widespread. Is tolling the best answer? That is hard to say. Maybe people at the end of the year should pay a tax that is based on miles driven. That has some real problems though it does avoid the big brother/privacy issue of one's info being captured in a database.

I think the call to action of "fix I5 before building new roads" is something we should all agree on. It is really striking how there have never been any public meetings about I5, in great contrast to the meetings about the Viaduct replacement, 520, etc. I even went to a meeting a few years ago about 509. In particular, I wish we could take care of the I5 section in downtown Seattle asap, because it will be a lot harder to do detours once the tunnel is in place (no exits into downtown is going to be a major headache).

sjenner

Posted Sat, May 18, 11:57 a.m. Inappropriate

The very first thing to do is to have all road users pay into the system. Currently, bicyclists are allowed to freeload. This should end. Bicycles should be licensed at the same annual fee as other two-wheeled vehicles -- in King County, $85 a year. The second thing to do is to end the practice of subsidizing mass transit from gasoline taxes. Transit already raids the federal gas tax pool, and that should end. In WA State, the vehicle surcharges skimmed off for transit should end.

When those things are done, then we can discuss gas taxes. Until then, "progressives" will encounter stiff resistance to new or higher automobile-related taxes. We drivers are tired of being skimmed.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 1:48 p.m. Inappropriate

I am in total agreement with every post of NotFan but I do not think (s)he goes far enough.

Every cyclist, including the youngest children, should indeed be taxed $85 just like motorbikes although since they are getting their own bike lanes and bike trails this seems like the minimal tax. Kids on trikes or with training wheels will of course have to pay a little extra for the additional wheel(s). Once cyclists are paying they fair share, they will of course be allowed to ride on all roads including the freeways. There is a perfectly good breakdown lane on I-5 that is barely used and would be prefect for cyclists. Putting bikes on freeways has the added advantage they will no longer be clogging up the regular roads. Tandem bikes can ride in the express lanes with the advantage that they will slow down subsidized transit buses and all those liberals who annoy regular citizens by carpooling. The new I-5 route will take 20 miles off the annual STP bike ride and avoid the horrible ride over the Lewis and Clark Bridge so the powerful Cascade Bicycle Club lobby should get on board

Similarly we should be taxing anyone who walks on a public sidewalk. To keep things simple, I would suggest sticking with $85 for two feet and $170 for four (the family dog). Tea Party activists who want to avoid these taxes can of course continue to drive everywhere or just stay inside posting countless inane comments on Crosscut

WSDW

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:52 p.m. Inappropriate

I would favor a big discount for kids. $85 a year per adult bike, and $5 a year per kid's bike. And if a bicyclist wants to ride on the freeway, go for it, as long as they can maintain the minimum speed. Otherwise, he just might get flattened, in which case I won't be the soul of sympathy.

The point about charging for sidewalk use is, as I've said elsewhere, an example of the usual dilatory, evasive, arrogant, and supercilious attitude displayed by Seattle and Washington's selfish "progressives" toward anyone who doesn't toe their line.

p.s.: By the way, when Mayor McSchwinn claims that it's impossible to develop a workable bicycle licensing system, he's either stupid or lying, or both. It could easily be run through the Department of Licensing. To prevent fee evasion by bicyclists, have a plate for the back of the seat, and a sticker for the frame, both bearing the same number. If they don't match, into the police cruiser's trunk the bicycle goes, to be released from the storage yard after payment of a $250 fine. Voila! The "impossible dream" comes true. Who knew?!

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 1:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Shoot NotFan. Why not make EVERYONE pay? What about those freeloading pedestrians that use the sidewalks at no charge? CHARGE 'EM!! Mothers with baby carriages. Baby carriage surcharge!! Why the possibilities are endless.

And for crossing the streets, another surcharge.

Another possibility you haven't thought of NotFan. Make the Walk sign be fee based. So if you wanted to cross the street, you'd have to pay. Otherwise the light would just stay red for the pedestrian and green for the cars.

As you state, the war on cars must cease! What better way to claim the streets back than to ban pedestrians from using them and give cars exclusive use. While earning revenue at the same time!!

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:49 p.m. Inappropriate

One cut 'n paste deserves another.

Pedestrians are not users of the streets, other than to cross them. Sidewalks are financed, appropriately, by property taxes. I think that if you are an authorized street user, that you and your vehicle should be licensed, and should pay for the maintenance and construction of streets and paths.

Your points are the typical defensive, dilatory, supercilious, self-righteous, and arrogant evasions that have come to characterize the approach that Seattle's "progressives" take toward anyone who dares contradict them. I'm accustomed to it, but that doesn't mean I like it or approve of it.

NotFan

Posted Tue, May 21, 6:31 a.m. Inappropriate

Good series of articles. Currently the gas tax generates around 25% of available revenue (sorry for not being completely accurate). It is more revenue than the debt service on bonds, but I believe the debt service consumes over half of gas tax, and that is not going to improve in the near future. The proposals being discussed in Olympia will only make the problem worse, adding nearly 20 new projects that are also not fully funded.

You would think that, using 520 as an example, that the legislators would have understood that once the bridge was paid off in 1979 that funding should have begun to be set aside for replacement, but while there were studies, this ultimately did not occur. Multiply that by the thousands of lane-miles and over 3,000 bridges (with more every year) that also are not getting adequate funding set aside for repair/replacement due to the desire of legislators to build new stuff, and you understand why the current proposal does very little to address the issue.

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:01 a.m. Inappropriate

So what would the State be willing to do to maintain and improve the vital transportation life-line that I-5 has become? Streamline EIS and SEPA? Particularly on existing infrastructure? Stop charging State Sales Taxes on public infrastructure projects where the taxpayers are already paying for the bonds and interest? Drop Davis-Bacon requirements of prevailing wage for public projects? I just saved you 30% of the cost. Cannot or will not do these things? Then you had better elect more effective Senators and Congress people and start getting more Federal funds in a big hurry. Better yet..do both.

Cameron

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:02 a.m. Inappropriate

"the Puget Sound Regional Council’s 2008 Transportation 2040...called for a vast network of fully-tolled freeways and arterials, a plan that failed to demonstrate technical feasibility, neglected chaotic and inefficient traffic effects and generated insufficient evidence of achievable financial benefits."

Sounds exactly like the typical product of PSRC, the region's Metropolitan Planning Organization:

1. wobbly technical feasibility;
2. neglects real-world consequences; and
3. unexamined financial results

Here's my solution: Blow up the MPO before it's too late. Get some sensible, results-oriented people instead.

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:20 a.m. Inappropriate

Well the PSRC plan was very effective in ensuring that NO loose change could slip through the cracks.
I predict that system would result in mass demonstrations, followed by setting the huge pile of Good-2-Go stickers on fire.

007

Posted Sat, May 18, 6:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Oh, and if that didn't get Olympia's attention, then the million plus violations a day would grind their vendors computers and the court system to a halt, not to mention showing the door to anyone having voted for this stuff.

007

Posted Sat, May 18, 8:04 a.m. Inappropriate

The personal car can take you directly from point A to point B any time day or night.

You don't pay every time you get into your own car, whereas you do whenever you use public transportation.

It's much easier to lobby for new projects for your company to bid on than it is to lobby for maintenances and repair.

If your company builds a new project and it fails, you can point to the state and blame their planning. If your company does repair work under state contract, you're much more on the hook if something goes wrong.

Trains run on tracks making them feel more permanent and predictable. Buses are dark inconvenient things stuck in traffic and filled with /those/ people. And they have steps! And you have to wait outside in the rain!

Growth management places limits on overall growth, but still allows for zoning policies that look like they were made by an OCD four-year-old with SimCity: yellow here, green over there, blue over there and never the three should meet. If we're to have such policies, then it seems like they need to do a better job of making sure they're designed as small regional hubs.

It's far too easy for you to live very far away from your job. The traffic isn't bad enough, public transportation options aren't convenient enough or attractive enough, the cost of driving long distances (money and time) aren't high enough to make it unappealing.

tvjames

Posted Sat, May 18, 8:25 a.m. Inappropriate

If I decided that my family would get into the business of buying houses, we'd have to consider:

(1) I will need to continue to allocate more and more of my budget to maintaining those homes and less and less to buying new homes.

(2) I need to find a way to offset the cost of these homes. Maybe I should rent them out.

If I fail some sort of basic math here, the homes will deteriorate over time and I will lose my investment.

If we are, in fact, "renting" our freeways, then if I drive my car 7 miles each way and my co-worker drives her similarly priced car 60 miles each way to work but her car is newer and gets better gas mileage, her rent is cheaper. (Hence our need in this state to penalize electric cars with an extra tax to offset lost gas taxes.)

No matter how you look at it, I would bet that we are getting a great deal when it comes to our cost for "renting" the roads we drive on. Unfortunately, the complexities of our taxing system hides the true costs of anything.

Tolling attempts to make at least one thing clearer - like public transportation, you're reminded every time you drive, if you're tolled. But this is one point at which I agree with MacDonald - piecemeal doesn't work. But then I'd also say that express lanes don't work either. This is that attempt to level the playing field - the whole notion "They're rich, they can afford Express Lanes!"

If you're going to toll, toll everyone, toll based on where and when people are driving and put that money back into improvements in those areas (then it logically makes sense to invest in the appropriate means that move a lot of people in the areas that a lot of people are already moving.). That will eliminate stupidly long commutes and invest in the efficient areas to keep them moving. It will also eliminate bad freight and transit choices.

But if you're going to toll, eliminate the other taxes.

But most importantly, we need transparency. Show us what we're paying and show us what it costs. That's how you change behavior and help us to make more reasonable choices. (And considering that I get a ballot in the mail every other week - you people sure vote a lot in a state where little seems to get done - I think we all want people making more informed choices.)

I'm sure there are plenty of holes to be poked, so have at it. I'll try to be open-minded and learn from it. Just don't throw "the poor" at me. If you want to graduate the tolling structure based on what tax bracket they fell into for last year's Federal Tax filing, go for it.

In the end, this is all about changing someone else's behavior - "don't tax me!" - "take the bus!" - "give me a contract to build you a bridge you don't need" - "fix the roads!" - "don't tell me what to do! ;) " - but until we have a better understanding of what we're paying for (and not paying for) there's no hope for truly reasoned responses, regardless of one's political views.

Just don't toll me on top of taxes. Simplify and clarify. Please.

tvjames

Posted Sat, May 18, 12:47 p.m. Inappropriate

We can predict future behavior by examining past and present behavior.

If we allow tolling to expand, it will produce little if any income above the cost of administration. The proceeds will be stolen by freeloaders, be they mass transit or bicyclists. Therefore, I oppose tolling except to pay for construction costs of a road subject to tolls. The "progressives" who run this state cannot be trusted, ever.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 12:15 p.m. Inappropriate

One thing that has not been mentioned is the harm caused to our roads with studded snow tires. I know this will not be popular w/ the public, but in a state that LOVES 'user fees/taxes' I would think this would come up as a small part of the solution. A charge/fee is handled now when you buy tires - how about one for installing the studded ones on your car?
I work in Pierce county & the semi trucks on the tide flats are NOT the only problem.

msmarci

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:47 p.m. Inappropriate

I tentatively agree with you about studs, with a caveat. The Cascades are, by far, the snowiest mountains in the United States. Accumulations average well over 500 inches a year, and often hit 1,000 inches. That's why we have chain requirements in many places. Not only that, but in the cities, we not only lack snow removal equipment but the lazy administrators can't even bring themselves to pick up the phone or browse the Internet to see how other jurisdictions remove snow. You see, we're Seattle, and we're to smart to, say, pay the owners of private pickup trucks $25 an hour to clear snow, like cities and towns throughout the United States do every year.

So I can't blame people for using studded tires. That much said, I'm okay with a fee, as long as the proceeds go to snow removal, and are not subject to a countervailing reduction in the budget elsewhere. The problem, of course, is that the usual suspects can be counted on to raid such a fund for other purposes.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 2 p.m. Inappropriate

Shoot NotFan. Why not make EVERYONE pay? What about those freeloading pedestrians that use the sidewalks at no charge? CHARGE 'EM!! Mothers with baby carriages. Baby carriage surcharge!! Why the possibilities are endless.

And for crossing the streets, another surcharge.

Another possibility you haven't thought of NotFan. Make the Walk sign be fee based. So if you wanted to cross the street, you'd have to pay. Otherwise the light would just stay red for the pedestrian and green for the cars.

As you state, the war on cars must cease! What better way to claim the streets back than to ban pedestrians from using them and give cars exclusive use. While earning revenue at the same time!!

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Pedestrians are not users of the streets, other than to cross them. Sidewalks are financed, appropriately, by property taxes. I think that if you are an authorized street user, that you and your vehicle should be licensed, and should pay for the maintenance and construction of streets and paths.

Your points are the typical defensive, dilatory, supercilious, self-righteous, and arrogant evasions that have come to characterize the approach that Seattle's "progressives" take toward anyone who dares contradict them. I'm accustomed to it, but that doesn't mean I like it or approve of it.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:51 p.m. Inappropriate

NotFan -

My comments weren't defensive, dilatory, supercilious or self-righteous.

It was a JOKE ok??

Man, loosen your collar a bit. I think you're taking everything WAY too seriously.

The reality is the elected officials don't give 2 cents about any comments on these forums. So quit taking everything so personally. It's just coffee talk.

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Sorry, but I'm not letting you off the hook. The whole reductio ad absurdum thing, a/k/a the building of strawmen, is a typical device of knee-jerk ideologues everywhere, including you.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 10:57 p.m. Inappropriate

The reality for those elected who choose not to give 2 cents about any of these comments is that we vote them out.

Then they can't keep taking our 2 cents to spend, instead of listening.

The fact is - we are morons for electing the people we currently have in office.

Posted Sun, May 19, 5:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Tolls are class warfare. Managing use of roads, and congestion, with tolls is class warfare. Congestion pricing does nothing but remove those in the lower social locations from use of roads; or as the progressives would say "it gets the riff raff and rabble off of the road. The rabble should not be allowed personal transportation anyway. Personal transportation should only be allowed for the wealthy".

Roads are a core function of government. When the use of a road network is rationed by ability to pay tolls, then we have moved toward oligarchy.

I am not understanding the constant push by progressives to make every Citizen, who is not wealthy, impoverished, at the same time progressives do all they can to extend benefit and special privilege to the wealthy.

Tolling is a neoliberal tool to impoverish United States Citizens. A Citizen without access to personal transportation is at a competitive disadvantage to a Citizen with personal transportation. Tolls remove access to personal transportation from those Citizens, who are already at a competitive disadvantage because of lack of wealth.
This is the progressives working to create a caste system in the United States.

Many progressives will say we need to impoverish Citizens, and diminish the standard of living for Citizens; because of Climate Change, and to equalize the wealth of nations.

Citizens should notice that progessives never wish to equalize the wealth of the wealthy. No, progressives never push any agenda that diminishes the standard of living for the wealthy, quite the opposite.

Citizens should notice that the progressives do not consider greenhouse gas emissions from the wealthy to be a problem. No only pollution cause by the non-wealthy Citizen is a problem to progressives. Progressives consider the pollution from the wealthy as not being pollution.
Progressives think that the wealthy's s#it does not stink. Only the s#it of the rabble stinks.

Tolling roads is anti-Citizen and solid class warfare. The so-called progressives are nothing but a political arm to benefit the wealthy, harm Citizens, and whose main goal is the creation of an Aristocracy/Plutocracy in the United State.

So, keep playing class warfare, progressives. The one thing you forget is that your masters, the wealthy, and you progressives fight for the imposition of anti-Citizen policies with money and corrupt politics; all that the non-wealthy Citizen has to fight with are guns.

Tolls are class warfare. The individuals, who support tolling, are authoritarian pigs.

jhande

Posted Sun, May 19, 7:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Tolls are taxes, that's all. As such, I'm not dead-set against them as long as the proceeds are used for no purpose other than to build roads, and maintain them if funds are otherwise short. But that's not how Seattle and Washington's "progressives" see it. For them, tolling is a means of funding non-road projects, and of reducing access to the roads.

This is very unfortunate, but it's true here. Therefore, I can't support tolling as put forth by the Democrats here, and I can't trust any contrary assurances they might give. Their goals are as clear as can be, and until they change then I'm against tolling.

NotFan

Posted Sun, May 19, 11 p.m. Inappropriate

Tolls are simply bribes, paid to thugs in politics, who steal our money with a smile, telling us they will protect us very well.

Posted Mon, May 20, 12:07 p.m. Inappropriate

In other corrupt places, you'll see toll roads that are in terrible condition. The tolls are simply dumped into the general fund. That's what'll happen here too.

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 20, 11:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Doug, I was with you until this page. Tolling would be a giant back-step. Reminiscent of the "King's Road" from 200 years ago. That is very Old World.
If we truly wish Washington to thrive, we will suck it up for another few cents' gas tax (a pittance really) and maintain and improve universal ease of movement around the state. Universal means not just freeway mega-projects and tunnels for the few, but an expanding network of ferry connections across and up and down the Salish Sea, an integrated network of bus-train links, urban and inter-city bikeways, etc. These are all methods for reducing the overburden of motor vehicles, which are, when everything is considered, the MOST expensive form of movement and in many ways, the shortest-lived.
Our best choices are those that allow every Washingtonian the greatest opportunity and ease to get around the state and fully participate in the state economy--not to cut off the millions without easy access to personal vehicle travel. Tolling doesn't do anything for that multitude, it just greases the wheels for the "haves."

elemental

Posted Mon, May 20, 1:20 p.m. Inappropriate

No bikeways until bicyclists pay vehicle taxes on their bikes.

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 20, 8:46 p.m. Inappropriate

Do you have any clue how foolish this idea is?

Who is going to pay to enforce this? Do you think those precious tax dollars will cover it?

This is like making people license their dogs so we can employ a dog-catcher to enforce it.

One day you will come to the realization that those bikers are actually doing you a favor by not driving and your anger will subside.

jeffro

Posted Mon, May 20, 9:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Who will enforce it? The same people who enforce the car license plate laws.

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 20, 3:01 p.m. Inappropriate

NotFan good to see you posting somewhere. You seem as frustrated as I am in regards to politics in this city. I too only believe in tolling to fund what is being built, re-built, etc. No tolling on I-5 express lanes just for the heck of it as McDonald wants so he could put that money into what he wanted or, as you say into the state's general fund. Bike's should be licensed or have the city put up special levies to fund bike lanes, cycle tracks or whatever -- but keep it separate from road monies. I noticed that McDonald has moved to Seattle, the Greenwood neighborhood if I'm not mistaken from one of the earlier articles. He knows where the suckers live -- Seattle. Most Seattle-ites haven't met a tax they don't like so he is capitalizing on it. I wish people would wake up and challenge the government even a little bit on what happens to our money and politicians just can't get enough of it.

Norge

Posted Wed, May 22, 4:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Norge, good to see you here too!

NotFan

Posted Mon, May 20, 4:47 p.m. Inappropriate

Norge,
You are in luck. The voters of Seattle did indeed approve a levy to pay for bike lanes. It is called "Bridging the Gap". It was approved in 2006 and was designed to raise $539 mil. over 9 years with $32 mil. going to bicycle infrastructure. $190 mi. was for arterial repaving and $55 mil. was for bridge upgrades. Google it and it will give a break down of everything.

Cheers

Squirrel

Posted Tue, May 21, 10:31 a.m. Inappropriate

Squirrel -- The only reason bicycles got any money from the 2006 Bridging the Gap Levy was because they were included in the pot hole levy. If a levy for bicycle improvements were to be put to the voters, it would fail so the city has to include it with other issues that the voters will pay for and the city knows this. If the bicycles got $32 million when the levy called for $27 million, you can see right there that the city does want it wants with public funds.

Norge

Posted Tue, May 21, 11:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Do you have any data to support your opinion? Not trying to be snarky, but if you have anything that backs up your claims, I am open to amending my opinion. The facts as I see them show that the voters approved the measure with the bike improvements attached. Also, the fact that a separate levy has to be approved to repair potholes in this city is an excellent argument for tolling users or increasing the gas tax. I would gladly pay more at the pump to have nice smooth roads.

Cheers.

Squirrel

Posted Tue, May 21, 2:47 p.m. Inappropriate

You told me to google it and it will break down everything. That's what I did, the report from the Bicyclist group said $27 million, not $32 million. I did not look at what the City of Seattle posts because what they post is where they put the money, not where it was supposed to go.

Cheers.

Norge

Posted Tue, May 21, 3:43 p.m. Inappropriate

Thanks for the reply. My numbers came from the Seattle Times. I wouldn't say they are the most accurate, but I trust an independent source slightly more than a government website. Here is the link http://seattletimes.com/news/local/links/transpolevy25.html
As to whether or not a separate levy would pass for bicycle infrastructure, I think that it might. However, as inefficient as our governments tend to be, it might be better to wrap everything in one levy. I do like that it was voted on and not just done in the shadows.

Cheers.

Squirrel

Posted Wed, May 22, 9:27 p.m. Inappropriate

What Doug is failing to mention in his article is that in order to have integrated tolling amongst the counties is that a new TOLLING AUTHORITY must be created. This would be a government agency like Sound Transit whose only job would be to take in money and then dole it out to various projects in the region. This would be several levels worse because the officials in control would most likely be directly appointed by the governor.

In New York State, this tolling body is called the Port of New York/New Jersey. They have been raising and raising the tolls on the bridges and tunnels in the region to pay for the Trade Center Boondoggle at Ground Zero.

Below is a MUST READ article about the fiasco that is the tolling authority in New York and how they're spending it all on the World Trade Center fiasco.

At nearly $4 BILLION, the subway station at the Trade Center, not even the busiest station in the Financial District—will be far and away the most expensive train station built in modern history.

With its contribution to the project, which was supposed to cost it virtually nothing, ballooning to nearly $1 billion, the Port Authority now finds itself unable to fund the sorts of regional transportation projects that have traditionally justified its existence.

Projects that had to be cancelled due to the Trade Center subway boondoggle:

1) Proposed ARC rail tunnel beneath the Hudson into Midtown (canceled by Chris Christie in 2010)

2) An extension of the PATH train to Newark Liberty International Airport (at a cost of around $500 million)

3) A thorough renovation of La Guardia Airport ($1 billion in capital funding was cut in 2009)

PATH/Fail: The Story of the World’s Most Expensive Train Station
http://observer.com/2013/05/pathfail/

Posted Thu, May 23, 8:44 p.m. Inappropriate

Tonight a bridge collapsed in Mt Vernon. I looked up the House budget to see if any work was listed for it. I read it was declared obsolete in 2000 and also in 2010. Nope, nothing listed. I now hope our legislators will put together a plan that addresses everything that is functionally obsolete, including the I5 bridge in Mt Vernon.

www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/TRAN/Documents/Proposed%20TRAN%20Package.pdf

PS of May 25 - we now know the bridge was hit by a truck, and that structurally it was considered ok. What still strikes me in the House list is the lack of outcomes, as in "with this budget, our goal is to fix the worst 30%" or whatever the metric is. That's what makes the 509 and 167 extensions so hard to digest.

sjenner

Posted Thu, May 23, 9:29 p.m. Inappropriate

The entire state has a crumbling infrastructure of highways, bridges and ancient ferries.

It's time to fix all of these problems, without added tolls, before any further work on any form of mass transit continues.

Stop everything else. This is serious, and frankly embarassing.

We sent men to the moon, but we cannot maintain our infrastructure before running off to insanely expensive mass transit projects that already are proven not to be working well?

Posted Fri, May 24, 1:07 a.m. Inappropriate

Getting this state to focus on maintenance would entail a massive cultural change. What "progressive" will ever get thrilled by merely fixing stuff?

NotFan

Posted Sat, May 25, 5:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Given the reposting of the series from former Secretary MacDonald, one can only conclude that his failure to address maintenance issues during his tenure helped lay the groundwork for the catastrophic collapse of the bridge in Mt. Vernon. The risk assessments had been done, the Budgets proposed during a relative economic boom time of his administration should have reflected the need to fix existing infrastructure along the single most significant economic corridor in the State. Perhaps the voters of Washington State will someday elected a group that will do what is needed rather than what is wanted to achieve a social agenda.

Cameron

Posted Sat, May 25, 10:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Great comment! If the "progressives" here were serious, they'd have done what Dukakis did in Massachusetts when he was governor during the 1980s, and fixed the unglamorous stuff.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jun 6, 10:05 p.m. Inappropriate

This article - as well as the trio preceding it - are proof positive that legislators are timid, more concerned about retaining their power by being re-elected than in making the hard choices. That's why, as this article states, tolling is being done piecemeal, for fear of offending anybody, why an existing plan isn't seeing the light of day, and candor is - as usual - in short supply in Olympia.

One minor clarification that regular STB readers are probably aware of: "...probably extending from Marysville to Lakewood (Tacoma)." There is another "Lakewood" to the north of Marysville.

I doubt the legislature will respond to citizens. For the past few to several months, they've been lobbied by people of a variety of stripes: conservatives, liberals, business, labor - that are all in favor of a transportation funding package. To date, while admitting this is an unprecedented range of coalition, they haven't budged.

bricsa

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