Wednesday, November 09, 2005

boon or doggle

It's the beginning of the end for the monorail
The agency later came up with a plan that would have cost roughly $4.9 billion over fewer than 40 years, shortening the route on both ends. Linking West Seattle, downtown and Interbay, south of the original northern destination in Ballard, it was slated to open in 2010 with trains departing from 12 stations every six minutes at peak hours.
On Wednesday, one day after voters shot down a last-ditch bid to save the embattled project, the agency that's spent $180 million toward an elevated train system reluctantly began taking its first steps toward folding.

In addition to the crap-tack-ular monorail being voted down, voters in Washington affirmed the 9.5 cent gas tax by a slim margin, or so it appears.

Gas tax foes concede defeat of rollback plan
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Gas-tax foes on Wednesday conceded defeat of their once wildly popular initiative to roll back a $5.5 billion tax increase that will add nearly a dime to the price of every gallon of gasoline.
Kelly Evans, campaign director for the opposition, said (...) "For a long time we haven't invested in our infrastructure and it's time. That's what our voters have said. Emotion was on the other side, the `send Olympia a message' emotion. Ours was a logical argument about safety and infrastructure."

I'm for the gas tax, but it makes me uncomfortable. Not the tax, regressive though it may be (that's the way they do it in Washington State). Rather, I'm worried that a large part of the tax will be gobbled up to dig an underground tunnel near the Seattle earthquake fault and inches from Elliot Bay.

This strikes me as absurd.

The tricky bit is convincing city planners that car traffic will be trending sharply downward over the next 20 years, and not up.

It can be a hard sell.


At 12:37 AM, November 10, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

I was wondering when you would comment on this. I have been watching I-912 from just accross the Columbia in OR.

Although I understand why the tax was created and for what it would fund, I probably would have voted against it for no other reason than the long term value of the road projects funded by that multi-billion dollar package. With your average road improvement expected to last 20 years or more, big road expansions would hardly have any long term value. Not making the investment would now could make it slightly more likely that a future transportation investment project could potentially being able to capture/redirect funds into more useful projects. With 912's failure and the gas tax's guarenteed presence, what is the liklihood that the state officials would return their constituents asking for more money.

That's my take on it anyway. If I lived in WA, I might have been more interested in the issue and its outcome.

At 12:54 AM, November 10, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

"The tricky bit is convincing city planners that car traffic will be trending sharply downward over the next 20 years, and not up.

Good luck getting a planner or civil engineer to change their mind once they have gotten it into their head (or leadership) a particular course of action. Between the human traits of not wanting to admit mistakes or look bad, all to often a planning or engineering department will relentlessly stick to a loser of a plan rather than lose face. Plus we can be rather arrogant and assume we know better than the average citizen on what is best for the community or region. Usually we are right. Sometimes we are not. If multiple staffers or political jurisdictions agree, group-think will set in and then you can pretty much forget about changing their minds.

If you are serious about challenging a defective plan, look for any flaws (legal) in the processing of the plan and back up any counter assessment of stated conclusions with firm, unassailable data. If this doesn't work, you will need the assistance of a land use attorney. Guarenteed. I worked for a pretty backward jurisidiction. The only thing that stopped them from making continued wrong decisions was a court order.

I wish it was easier, but it is not.

At 4:09 PM, November 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I can agree a bit in theory with MonkeyGrinders thoughts that many of the projects shouldn't even be built and Unplanners prediction that it will be difficult to redirect the money later for better use (or get even more money) many of the projects are not purely expansion of infrastructure but necessary replacements of neglected or end-of-life structures. Neglecting these sort of items can lead to disasters similiar to the 1989 Embarcadero Freeway and Bay Bridge destruction and loss of life.
While blowing up the planet to build a new hyper-space bypass may be a bad choice...neglecting infrastructure is probably worse.


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