Morning Fizz

Report: Tunnel Tops List of "Highway Boondoggles"

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring bus spin, classroom size, and tunnel fail.

By Morning Fizz September 18, 2014

First, a couple of "Isn't It Weird Thats" from the week.

And not so much in the usual way that catches someone in a bit of political hypocrisy or telling contradiction, but more just weird. 

1.  At last night's kickoff for the Prop. 1 Campaign—the 0.1 percent sales tax and the $60 vehicle license fee (with a $20 low-income rebate) for about $45 million to prevent about 183,000 hours of cuts in Seattle-only Metro bus service—diehard regionalist Mayor Ed Murray continued to insist that the last-ditch Go-it-Alone measure wasn't a Seattle-only vote.

A countywide Prop. 1 failed in April with a 66 percent 'No' vote in the suburbs eclipsing the 66 'Yes' vote in Seattle. In response, Seattle put its city-only bus vote on this November's ballot. 

Murray, with King County Executive Dow Constantine at his side, told the very white crowd at Fado in downtown Seattle: "We're doing this to preserve a regional system. A Seattle-only approach isn't good for Seattle in the long term."

Murray believes transportation systems have to function regionally, and with the commute traffic between the suburbs and the city, (a point Constantine hit), the mayor is right that Metro is a regional system.  

But there's a Doth-Protest-Too-Much note of denial in Murray's rap. And a defiance of the facts. This is literally a Seattle-only vote. And the region rejected buses. Seattle, a city, has different needs and a different sensibility than the suburbs. 

Murray's impulses about regionalism are wise—Fizz read the Metro Revolution too—but ironically, it's regional leader Constantine who seems to have a better handle on the ascendant idea that a bus network is for the city, not the burbs.

As Constantine's recent plan to sync up Metro and Sound Transit (with suburban buses simply delivering people to commuter light rail stops) shows: the regional approach is going to be about cities and suburbs teaming up on light rail, not buses. 

2. At Tuesday night's meeting of the 43rd District Democrats, arguably the most liberal Democratic district in the state, the teachers' union initiative, I-1351 mandating smaller class sizes, not only failed to win an endorsement, but came a couple votes shy of getting stamped with a "Vote No" recommendation. 

Hometown state Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), speaking against the measure, warned the crowd that I-1351 could add perhaps another $1 billion in costs to the looming McCleary session where the legislature is already on the hook to come up with an extra $5 billion beteween now and the start of the 2018 school year. 

The 43rd ended up making no recommendation on the measure. 

That's it on Weirds ... Now for some basic Fizz: 

3. A Footnote on Legislative District endorsements: In the liberal intramural over Prop. 1 A (a union measure to mandate preschool ed training and higher pay for preschool teachers) and Prop. 1 B (a city measure to fund preschool slots), a recent letter from legislators, which was reportedly signed by West Seattle state Sen. Sharon Nelson and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, urging LDs to stay neutral, didn't work in the 34th. The district endorsed the city measure, Prop. 1 B, last week. (Thanks to West Seattle Blog for the heads up on that.) 

Last night, the 36th Legislative District in Queen Anne and Ballard decided to stay neutral on the competing preschool measures. 

4.  A brand new U.S. PIRG report (out this morning) titled "Highway Boondoggles" details the dramatic decrease in driving (Americans are driving 300 billion annual miles less today since 2005 than they wold have if projected 20th Century averages persisted, the report says) and goes on to condemn the fact that  "States continue to spend tens of billions of dollars on new or expanded highways that are often not justified in terms of their benefits to the transportation system, or pose serious harm to surrounding communities."

The report goes on to list 11 "Boondoggles." At the top of their list?

We quote: 

Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, Washington, $3.1 billion to $4.1 billion – A cheaper transit-based alternative to an expensive highway tunnel has already been put in place as a stopgap during the much-delayed tunneling project. The stopgap’s successes could be built upon in order to achieve nearly all the same goals as the tunnel project for far less money.


 Last week, Seattle's new SDOT director, when pressed about the stopgap measure (a surface/transit alternative), told PubliCola: "Instead of focusing on Plan B [the surface/transit option], let's focus on making Plan A [U.S. PIRG's No. 1 highway boondoggle] work."





Show Comments