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Transportation: A local game plan?

Post by David Seago on Jan. 7, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
January 7, 2008 4:16 pm

A "go it alone" stance on new highway construction is favored in a legislative priority list Pierce County officials will consider Wednesday.


The final draft document, released today, calls for creating a new transportation benefit district – perhaps along with another county – to pay for big projects like extending SR 167 and building the Cross Base Highway.


The draft clearly rejects the idea of creating a regional Transportation Board to rule all transit and highway planning in the Puget Sound metro region. (See my Sunday column on a regional governance plan state lawmakers will consider this session.)


A coalition of county business and government leaders called RAMP will consider the proposed legislative priorities Wednesday. But first they will hear a pitch from top advocates of regional governance. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. at the Fabulich Center (formerly the World Trade Center) at 3600 Port of Tacoma Road.


Here’s what the draft says about creating a new taxing district:


RAMP believes that a Transportation Benefit District is the most viable vehicle for advancing towards the next voter-approved funding package, whether Pierce County moves forward unilaterally or in cooperation with other counties; consequently, RAMP asks the Legislature to grant TBDs authority allotted to the Regional Transportation Investment District, as well as removing the ten-year limitation on voter-approved tax collections


Click below to see the full document.



Priorities

o RAMP believes that a Transportation Benefit District is the most viable vehicle for advancing towards the next voter-approved funding package, whether Pierce County moves forward unilaterally or in cooperation with other counties; consequently, RAMP asks the Legislature to grant TBDs authority allotted to the Regional Transportation Investment District, as well as removing the ten-year limitation on voter-approved tax collections

o RAMP maintains that transportation governance revisions are secondary to the provision of adequate financial resources for transportation (both roads and transit); to that end, RAMP will support Legislative goals and recommendations that make adequate financing their top priority

o RAMP believes that subarea equity is important for any regional transportation investment plan and will seek to maintain Pierce County’s fair share of funding while working collaboratively with the rest of the region

o RAMP will work to ensure that projects funded within Pierce County via the 2003 Nickel package and the 2005 Transportation Partnership package are completed without delay


Projects

RAMP will work to develop regional, state and federal funding for the following priority transportation projects:

o SR-167 – RAMP seeks to secure full funding for this critical link from Puyallup to SR-509, including right-of-way acquisition for the full-width corridor, and supports high capacity vehicle lanes being added to the portion north of Sumner


o SR-704 – RAMP is an advocate for the construction of the "Cross-Base Highway" and believes that this transportation corridor should be renamed the "Armed Services Highway" to reflect the importance of the military and their families


o SR-162 – RAMP supports allocation of State funding to the SR-162 corridor between the City of Orting and SR-410 in such a manner and amount as to leverage the use of private funding being identified by the Plateau Transportation Partnership for transportation improvements


o Sound Transit – RAMP supports the following additions to regional transit services:

1. Connecting light rail from Tacoma Dome Station to SeaTac Airport

2. Contingency fund for ridership growth (e.g., additional parking, shuttle service, new stations, pedestrian facilities, signalization)

3. Extending Sounder service to DuPont

4. Expanding Sounder service to all-day or expanding express bus service to all-day

5. Linking downtown Tacoma to TCC via light rail

o Pierce Transit – RAMP supports completion of the Peninsula Park & Ride facility

o Rail Improvements – RAMP supports construction of grade separations that will serve Sounder, Tacoma Rail and Port of Tacoma infrastructure needs

o Regional Mobility Grant (WSDOT’s Office of Transit Mobility) – RAMP supports funding for proposed Pierce County projects


Policies

In addition, RAMP supports transportation policies essential to our region’s economic development, which include the following:


o RAMP supports the recommendations of the Washington Transportation Commission in its 2006 Comprehensive Tolling Study and believes that the state should use tolling to encourage effective use of the transportation system through congestion management as well as to provide a supplementary source of transportation funding; moreover, tolling represents the most direct way to charge system users for the cost of the highway system without singling out one specific class of user; however, RAMP believes transit should not be tolled or be subject to congestion pricing and that this should be reflected in the Transportation Commission’s tolling policy.


o RAMP opposes cargo taxes that would hamper the state’s competitiveness, driving economic activity from Washington to neighboring states and countries, and harming Washington ports, manufacturers, growers, and exporters: RAMP supports mechanisms for funding freight infrastructure that rely either on user fees or on general purpose taxes through which the broader community invests in freight mobility.


o RAMP supports financial incentives, such as tax credits, for new construction and infrastructure improvements on the state’s rail lines


o RAMP supports allocation of all multimodal funds to public transportation and opposes any efforts to allocate federal transit funds to highway purposes.


o RAMP seeks full funding for the recommendations of the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board (FMSIB) to improve freight mobility and the state’s competitiveness


o RAMP supports keeping the state accountable for efficiencies in the construction of transportation projects by producing verifiable and quantifiable results through cost savings, project prioritization, benchmarks, planning and project streamlining


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