Regionalists are trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, after the defeat of Proposition 1, which was a blow to the effort to think regionally, act boldly. One key figure is Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, who heads the Sound Transit board and other regional committees. In an interview last week, Ladenburg noted one consequence of the defeat of Prop. 1 may be the creation of a rival regional grouping, combining Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap Counties. That would be a new kind of Hanseatic League, yoking the booming cities of Tacoma, Bremerton, and Olympia. If it happens, it might be a needed shock to get Seattle's attention. Ladenburg opposes the breakaway effort, though he's intrigued by some elements of it. He's a dedicated believer, from many trips to other regional economic powerhouses around Asia and Europe, that regions, not cities, are keys to economic growth if they can figure out how to act in concert. He notes that one third of Pierce county workers have jobs in King County, and he doesn't want to kill that economic golden goose. "People need places to work, and good places to come home to," he says, noting that Pierce County is still affordable to families. But Pierce County, and particularly the Port of Tacoma, are hatching lots of jobs as well. Ladenburg says the Port of Tacoma has enough land to triple its business in the next decade, particularly in containers. Seattle's container trade, he says, might grow 10 percent in that time. The new Tacoma Narrows Bridge is touching off rapid growth to the west, particularly in Gig Harbor and Port Orchard. There are 2,000 units of housing under construction in downtown Tacoma, where the Richard Florida formula of arts-driven growth is being applied to attract young singles. Key to Port of Tacoma growth is highways, particularly Route 167 leading east and still (after 30 years of talk) absurdly constricted for 11 miles at its west end, blocking access to Kent Valley distribution sites. Prop. 1 would have fixed that, but now it's back on the To-Do List. Also riling up the Tacoma folks is the way it had to pay for a new bridge over the Narrows with tolls, while Gov. Gregoire is busy cobbling together state funds for the 520 bridge. The message: Pierce County gets state money if there are dollars left after Seattle's big projects. Hence the secessionist talk, led by some members of a group called RAMP (Regional Access Mobility Partnership), combining political, Port, and Chamber of Commerce interests in the Tacoma region. One idea is to create a new RTID (the regional transportation investment district) for Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap, rather than continuing to tie the roads measure to King and Snohomish, as with Prop. 1. It makes sense at one level, since King County is just too big and dominant (and often arrogant). This spirit is echoed in Snohomish County as well.