UPDATE 2: In an e-mail sent this afternoon, David Anderson, chief backer of an initiative intended to stop high-speed trains from running through Lakewood, now has set Aug. 7 as its prospective election date.
He has also set March 2 as the deadline to collect 5,500 signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Anderson said he has 500 signatures currently.
That was well short of the number needed by his deadline Sunday to qualify the initiative for the May 15 special election.
But Anderson recently discovered the Pierce County Auditor’s Office had discontinued that as an election date. It’s too late to try to qualify the initiative for the February or April elections so August is the next available election.
Even if supporters manage to gather enough signatures, their effort might be moot.
The initiative seeks to bar the city from entering into an agreement with any government agency that supports or enables high-speed Amtrak service to run through Lakewood.
Anderson expects such an agreement to be drafted following the release of the results of an environmental study sometime this summer.
If the city and Washington State Department of Transportation sign that agreement before the initiative goes to voters, it would be “untouchable by initiative,” Anderson explained in an e-mail.
Earlier posts on this topic with more information follows.
UPDATE: An initiative aimed at stopping high-speed passenger trains from rumbling through Lakewood might have a second life after all.
Less than two hours after telling me that the measure was “not to be,” chief backer David Anderson, president of the Tillicum-Woodbrook Neighborhood Association, said he might have “miscalibrated” the timeline he established to gather 5,500 signatures under deadlines established by the county elections office. Now he’s checking with the office to see if he can extend his deadline to Jan. 27 in an effort to qualify the measure for the May 15 special election.
Anderson said he had gathered 438 signatures by the deadline Sunday and might get some more over the next two days.
Anderson is e-mailing the office tonight and will follow up with a phone call tomorrow morning. I’ll keep you updated.
EARLIER POST: Backers of an initiative aimed at stopping high-speed passenger trains from rumbling through Lakewood failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the May ballot.
David Anderson, who started the signature drive, said Monday supporters have collected 438 signatures, about 8 percent of the 5,500 signatures he wants to have in hand by his deadline Sunday.
Supporters must gather 4,029 valid signatures from registered voters in Lakewood to qualify the initiative. They seek 20 percent more to account for invalid signatures the Pierce County Auditor’s Office throws out because the signer doesn’t live in Lakewood or didn’t register to vote, for example.
Anderson, who qualified a city initiative that would have banned minicasinoes in Lakewood that voters rejected in 2008, was disappointed in the result.
He said he might receive some late signatures over the next two days but doubted the tally would reach 600.
“Thought it would catch on,” Anderson wrote in an e-mail. “Not to be. Trains on the way.”
The Washington State Department of Transportation proposes to shift passenger trains from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe mainline along the waterfront near Point Defiance to an inland route; the goal is to save time and improve reliability for Amtrak Cascades service. The $91 million federally funded project is in the middle of an environmental review.Lakewood leaders and residents have expressed safety concerns because the trains would move through residential neighborhoods at speeds up to 79 mph. They would run through Lakewood’s Tillicum neighborhood, where Anderson lives and leads its neighborhood association.
The initiative sought to bar the city from entering into an agreement with any government agency that supports or enables high-speed Amtrak service to run through Lakewood.
Anderson has said this is the only chance to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
The bypass is in the midst of an environmental review that examines the impacts of rerouting the trains, including safety and noise, and offers ways to mitigate them. It’s anticipated the city and WSDOT would sign an agreement related to the mitigation.
Anderson expects that the agencies would sign that agreement this summer before the next election that backers could try again to qualify the initiative.
In January 2010, the Lakewood City Council approved a resolution opposing the Point Defiance Bypass project. It took the action before the Federal Railroad Administration required WSDOT to complete an environmental review as a condition of using federal stimulus dollars.
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