Not the best time for any legislation

By BEN BROESAMLE

The overarching policy goal of my career is to create a built environment responsive to the climate impacts of our city, foremost of which are caused by GHG emissions from transportation. To that end, with my free time I work on transportation policy issues. During the day I work on fostering a career building transit-supportive real estate development.

Last Monday, I went to Olympia to speak with my State Senator, Reuven Carlyle. The meeting was set a week before the State Senate Republicans voted to fire the WSDOT Secretary, Lynn Peterson. Before that happened, I was intending to meet with the 36th District Senator to voice my support of House Bill 2757 that would direct WSDOT to include evaluation under the state environmental policy act of impacts to public transportation operation of a transit authority, effectively make WSDOT consider how best to support transit operations through each of its projects. My plan was to ask that he consider sponsoring a similar Senate Bill with one addition, the removal of the word “not” from the following:

RCW 35.95A.010 Definitions (5) “Public monorail transportation facilities” means a transportation system that utilizes train cars running on a guideway, together with the necessary passenger stations, terminals, parking facilities, related facilities or other properties, and facilities necessary and appropriate for passenger and vehicular access to and from people-moving systems, not including fixed guideway light rail systems.

It’s true that these two pieces of code are only related in that they are code amendments in favor of more transit, but they can both be amended with one bill.

Sound Transit 3 might build a rail line from Ballard to Downtown and from Downtown to West Seattle. It could easily be too watered down to fully fund the continuation of the Ballard line from Ballard to the UDistrict. Sound Transit 3 is likely to complete the “regional spine,” connecting Tacoma, Everett and Redmond to Seattle with light rail. After that spine is complete there will be limited regional impetus to further expand the relatively non-emitting rapid transit system. Seattle and King County will still need many connections including Downtown to the University District, via Ballard. The City Transportation Authority (RCW35.95A), originally intended to build Public monorail transportation facilities, is our best shot at achieving this, but we don’t want another Monorail fiasco. Sound Transit is ahead of schedule and under budget on its tunneling projects and we need to fund more of their work within Seattle, but the CTA disallows light rail expansion with one word: “not.

The CTA code could be flipped on its head, and put to use with the deletion of that one word.

On the day I was in Olympia, the Democrats were endeavoring to make no movements on any transportation issues for at least another session in response to the Republicans surprise firing of Secretary Peterson. Senator Carlyle dodged any response to my direct requests, but given the political climate, that is completely rational. Our discussion turned to my anger at the City of Seattle requesting intermediate-term funding for local bus operations from the Sound Transit 3 system plan at the expense of fully funding a ship canal tunnel crossing and Ballard to UDistrict tunnel expansion. He saw the logic of wanting the highest reliability Ship Canal crossing option, but preferred an extension from Ballard to Northgate via Holman Road—an alignment entirely in the Senator’s district.

My meeting with Reuven Carlyle was cut short by a rescheduled transportation committee meeting. I doubt they discussed much in the way of new legislation.

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