Inside Opinion

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Tag: tolls

Oct.
10th

I-1125 puts taxpayers on hook for local toll projects

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Tim Eyman makes his living selling initiatives, which means he’s got to churn them out regularly to keep his paydays coming. Some have contained the germs of good ideas; others have been folly incarnate.

Initiative 1125, on this year’s ballot, falls under into the incarnate category. It sounds wonderful: a law to protect drivers from unreasonable highway tolls.

Scratch and sniff, though, and it turns out to be a monkey wrench aimed squarely at the state’s efforts to keep cars moving on overcrowded roads.
Its biggest defect is so stupendous that it’s hard to believe Eyman or anyone else in his shop anticipated the impact.

Tolls are commonly used to repay bonds that finance big transportation projects, such as the state Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington. The Legislature – like other legislatures throughout the country – delegates toll-setting authority to panels responsible for making sure the bondholders get the interest and principal they’ve been promised.

If highway projects in Washington started looking like bad loans, private financing for future projects would dry up. Like it or lump it, that’s the way capitalism works.

I-1125 proposes to vest toll-setting authority in the Legislature; its supporters crow about making elected officials accountable for the fees.
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Feb.
9th

The flaw in state treasurer’s advice on bridge tolls

Tacoma Narrows commuters will get their chance tonight to comment on the state Transportation Commission’s proposed bridge toll hikes.

Tolls were bound to go up by some amount this year, but the commission’s proposed rates have been especially controversial owing to the state treasurer’s involvement. Treasurer Jim McIntire is looking at having to sell bonds on the Highway 520 bridge in a few short years, and he says driving a good bargain will depend in part on the fiscal health of the Narrows toll account.

He has asked the Transportation Commission to set toll rates that generate

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Jan.
28th

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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