The Sunday Times editorial urging the legislators pass the “State Transportation Package” continues their ineptitude when it comes to dealing with the areas transportation problems. They support raising gas taxes by 11.5 cents, making our rates 3rd highest in the country. Doing so will generate about $2.5 billion over the next ten years, a small part of the “$12.3 billion” supposedly needed for a “more functional transportation system”. They propose to get the other $10 billion from a “buffet of local tax options”. Some buffet!
The Times “fixes” do little to reduce the congestion that “makes Greater Seattle the fourth-most congested metro area in the country”. They only apparent benefit from the increased gas tax for east side is the funding for “the west side landing of the Highway 520 floating bridge”. The only significant eastside benefit from the “buffet of local tax options” will be the elimination of I-90 tolls. Thus, the $12.3 billion the Times is advocating be spent over the next 10 years will do very little if anything to ease eastside congestion.
Even more inept, the Times ignores the fact Sound Transit will spend $18.5 billion (2007$) on Prop 1 light rail extensions that will do absolutely nothing to ease congestion. Their $2.8 billion East Link extension will substantially increase cross-lake congestion when they close down the I-90 Bridge center roadway in 2016 to install light rail. When completed (2023?) the trains will have a miniscule effect on cross-lake congestion because they lack both the capacity and accessibility needed for more than a fraction of cross-lake commuters. (See 5/15/12 Post)
Sound Transit will spend the remaining Prop 1 billions on Central Link extensions to Lynnwood and Federal Way that fail any rational cost/benefit analysis. The result will be a perpetual financial “black hole” from the huge construction debt and increased subsides to operate over the longer routes. What’s absurd is the commute time for those who chose to ride the trains will be longer than what is currently available or could easily be available with far less expensive buses. (See 4/26/13 Post)
In conclusion, the nearly $31 billion the Times advocates spending over the next 10 years will do very little to reduce congestion. If that doesn’t qualify for “inept” I don’t know what does. Obviously, the same adjective applies to the Sound Transit Board and the WSDOT who are directly responsible for this debacle and the legislature's Joint Transportation Committee members whose oversight failure continues to allow it.