On Other Blogs Today: Roads and Bridges, Fines and Taxes
1. The Everett Herald editorial board rips apart state senate Majority Coalition Caucus leader Sen. Rodney Tom's (D-48, Medina) proposal to fine legislators $250 a day (and eliminate their per diem payments of up to $90 a day) for going into overtime, calling the Medina millionaire's proposal "groan-inducing for workaday legislators who aim to carve a meaningful legacy."
Noting the irony in Tom's suggestion—the responsibility for gridlock ultimately falls on legislative leadership, and Tom is the top leader in the senate—the Herald also takes a shot at (presumably other) media, whose willingness to seize on the "do-nothing legislature" narrative, they say, has contributed to popular support for Tom's absurd proposal.
2. Infrastructure USA interviews Seattle Transit Blog's own Martin H. Duke, who lays out, in concise, compelling fashion, the current lay of the region's transportation landscape, and the problems facing Seattle's transportation infrastructure: "We’ve been underfunding our road maintenance and our transit infrastructure for decades now, partly because of an initiative process that allows voters to express anti-tax sentiment without really forcing them to account for the damage to spending that it will do when you cut those taxes."
3. Less than two weeks after the Washington state legislature declined to fund our state's share of the Columbia River Crossing bridge, which would have linked Portland and Vancouver with a new highway bridge that would have included light rail, a new group in Vancouver is soliciting ideas for "alternative proposals" to the project, BikePortland reports.
A lot of the details of their proposal are a bit over my head (e.g. "Add mid span lift to rail bridge reducing lift by over 85%"), but they include eliminating an HOV lane and adding a new deck on the current bridges connecting the two cities for exclusive bike and pedestrian access.
4. Another dispatch from Portland: According to the Atlantic Cities, Portland may soon evict an illegal homeless encampment on an empty lot downtown, saying the group that operates it (a homeless advocacy group called Right 2 Survive) owes the city more than $17,000 in for violations such as operating an unauthorized recreational campground. The situation is reminscent (if on a smaller scale—the campers number only a couple of dozen) of the dilemma facing Nickelsville, the illegal encampment in Southwest Seattle that the city has ordered to leave no later than September 1.
We’ve been underfunding our road maintenance and our transit infrastructure for decades now, partly because of an initiative process that allows voters to express anti-tax sentiment without really forcing them to account for the damage to spending.—STB's Marin Duke
One major difference is that whereas (supposedly hippie-dippy) Portland is threatening fines, Seattle has pledged $500,000 to help relocate campers and hook them up with services—and has passed legislation that will expand the areas of the city where encampments are allowed, making future Nickelsvilles not only possible but legal.
5. The Yakima Herald Republic says a new study from the Congressional Budget Office concludes that undocumented immigrants in Washington state contributed $292 million in state and local taxes in 2010—a rebuke to immigration-reform opponents who claim illegal immigration represents a drain on state and local resources. If those immigrants were given a path to citizenship, the paper continues, state and local governments in Washington could see andadditional $20 million in taxes every year.
6. Seattle Bike Blog takes a look at the plans for rebuilding Alaskan Way on the downtown waterfront after the tunnel is built.
The good news for cyclists: For those traveling between the Alaskan Way trail and the existing Elliott Bay Trail (which connects downtown to Magnolia), "the connection will likely be seamless, easy and safe."
The bad news: Although much of the new Alaskan Way will, as promised, be a four-to-five-lane boulevard, south of Columbia St., the plans show an eight-to-nine-lane freeway (and even the narrower sections will, SBB says, be "unfriendly to anyone outside a car."