I sat in on the TNT’s public forum on the Roads and Transit package last night. Heard a couple citizens complain that too much of the $18 billion package – about $10.8 billion – would go to Sound Transit.
Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg and County Council Shawn Bunney both countered with the same point. Much more is being spent on roads when other state transportation funding is considered.
Ladenburg’s office ran down the numbers today. The 2003 "nickel package," which included a 5-cent increase in the gas tax, funds 158 roads projects over 10 years for a total of $3.9 billion. The 2005 Transportation Partnership package, which included a 9-cent increase in the gas tax, raises $7.4 billion for 274 road projects around the state.
No new funds have been provided for Sound Transit since 1996. So adding the 2003 and 2005 provision for roads to the $7 billion for road projects in the R&T packages totals $12 billion for roads.
I would say the comparison is not perfect because not all of the 2003 and 2005 road funds will be spent in the Puget Sound region. But the bulk of it will be, so generally speaking, the point Ladenburg and Bunney sought to make is valid. We’re not spending more on transit than roads.