Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, who also serves as chairman of Sound Transit’s board of directors, says it was "a big surprise" when King County Executive Ron Sims announced his opposition Thursday to the Roads & Transit measure on the November ballot.
"I didn’t know about it. Ron didn’t tell anybody that he was going to do this. He didn’t give anybody a courtesy call," Ladenburg said today.
In an op-ed Thursday in The Seattle Times, Sims said the plan that combines Sound Transit’s next phase expanded rail and bus service with the Regional Transportation Investment District’s roads plan costs too much ("the largest tax increase in state history’), doesn’t deliver enough ("doesn’t move enough people") and will be bad for the environment ("this plan will actually boost harmful carbon emissions).
Among other things, Sims says there’s no need to extend light rail from SeaTac to Tacoma because the Tacoma area is already served by commuter rail (which uses a heavier type of train than light rail). And too many of the highway projects, he says, don’t start construction until years from now.
Ladenburg noted that Sims, a current Sound Transit board member and its former chairman, helped develop the plan. Ladenburg said the board members at Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting were “stunned” by the op-ed (Sims didn’t attend the meeting). "He sat here and voted yes as we put this package together for three years," Ladenburg said.
"Frankly, the reasons don’t make any sense to me," he added. "Just because we’re building light rail in Seattle 20 years late and it costs so much … that’s, to me, all the evidence we need to say let’s not make it 20 years late in Tacoma, too."
Ladenburg also disputed Sims’ environmental concerns, saying that Sounder commuter trains use diesel while the light-rail system would use electricity. "If you’re worried about carbon footprint, you’ve got to build light rail. That’s the major thing you should be doing," he said.
Asked how much Sims’ opposition will hurt the campaign, Ladenburg said: "It’s such a big deal, people will make up their minds. I don’t think what I say or Ron says will make much of a difference."