Inside Opinion

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Tag: Department of Transportation


The federal empire: Who made this mess, anyway?

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If there’s one agency of the federal government that distinguishes itself in the stewardship of tax money, it’s the Government Accountability Office.

At the direction of Congress – good move, lawmakers – the nonpartisan GAO has just delivered its first annual report on duplication and other inefficiencies in the far-flung federal empire. Much of the information has long been public, but now for the first time we have a single, 340-page that tells the story in all its baroque detail.

It would take this entire page to summarize the overlaps and fragmentation the GAO found in the nation’s mushroom farm of federal programs. A few examples:

• Congress doubled down last year on its politically driven efforts to prop up the dubious ethanol industry by giving it $5.4 billion-a-year worth of tax credits. The GAO said the federal fuel standard already guarantees a market for farm-state ethanol producers; the annual cost of this needless giveaway is projected to rise to $6.75 billion a year in 2015.
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The Nalley Valley briefing DOT never gave

No one was more surprised than the members of The News Tribune’s editorial board to read Saturday of a $890,000 mistake on the Nalley Valley viaduct project.

The reason: Not four weeks ago, Department of Transportation chief Paula Hammond and Olympic region administrator Kevin Dayton had met with the ed board to talk about progress on the project, among other things. No mention was made of such a costly and significant error.

Monday morning, I emailed DOT officials to say we didn’t feel like they had been straight with us. Hammond called us to explain. “I profusely apologize,”

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Don’t make example of Narrows toll payers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Come July 1, some drivers who cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge will be paying more to make the trip. The question is: How much more and to what aim?

State Treasurer Jim McIntire, being a numbers guy, would prefer to err on the conservative side.

He’s hoping to improve his chances of driving a bargain when he sells bonds for Seattle’s new Highway 520 bridge in a couple of years. He wants to impress investors with displays of the state flexing its tolling authority in the name of fiscal prudence.

McIntire’s suggestion has prompted a debate over the appropriate size of the bridge account’s reserves. Building a fat savings account is usually a good idea  – unless you’re padding it with money extracted from people who are struggling to pay their bills, much less save.

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