Monday, September 28, 2009

Reminder: CANDIDATES FORUM: What's Their Vision for Transportation and Land Use in Tacoma?

It's election season in Tacoma. At stake this year is the Mayoral election and four City Council Candidate races. The Puget Sound Regional Council predicts that the City of Tacoma is expected to grow by 127,000 people in the next 30 years. Earlier this year the City proactively planned for this growth by passing the Mixed-Use Centers update, fulfilling this vision of creating vibrant mixed use centers is an exciting opportunity with many challenges.

So what do the candidates think about transportation? Parking policy? Managing the city's growth and keeping neighborhoods vibrant? Integrating economic development with climate change goals and land use planning? Find out the answers to these questions and more at the very first candidates forum on transportation and land use.

WHEN: Thursday, Oct 1st, 6:30-8:30pm
WHERE: Carwein Auditorium, UWT

The forum is open to the public and transportation related questions for the candidates can be submitted prior to the event to For general event questions or media inquires contact Andrew Austin at

This event is brought to you by:
Transportation Choices Coalition, The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, University of Washington Urban Studies Program, Futurewise, Cascade Bicycle Club, Tacoma Wheelman's Bicycle Club, Tacoma Sun, Cascade Land Conservancy, and Exit 133

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tacoma Bike-In, October 17: Save the date!

Cascade Bike Club and the Tacoma Wheelmen are doing a good looking event in Tacoma on the 17th (a Saturday). It will include a workshop on cycling advocacy, a bike tour of Tacoma, and of course bike oriented drinks. See the details below and at the linked websites.

Tacoma Bike-In, October 17: Save the date!

What can you do to improve bicycling in Tacoma and throughout Washington? Join Cascade Bicycle Club and the Tacoma Wheelmen on Sat., Oct. 17 for a workshop on bike advocacy.

We'll discuss how we can use our clout to demand better facilities and just laws for bicyclists. Also, the outcome of the bicycle and pedestrian count, and how the data we collect on bicycling is crucial to our safety as bicyclists.

Together, we'll strategize on making a difference in Tacoma and working together for better state laws and federal funding of trails and other facilities.


10am - 1pm: Workshop at the Tacoma Downtown Library, 1102 Tacoma Avenue South

1pm - 3pm: Bike tour of Tacoma with bicycle planners and special guests (stay tuned for details!)

3pm - eve.: Meet at the Harmon HUB for drinks

Click here to RSVP!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Park(ing) Day a Success

Last Friday was international Park(ing) Day. Here locally TCC Co-sponsored Park(ing) spots in Seattle and Tacoma. It was a lot of fun and a huge success.

Thank you to all of the individuals and groups who we worked with. Check out the new album on our facebook page for the photos!

Policy Director Bill LaBorde on KPLU talking about gains in transit ridership

Check out this 30 second piece discussing how more and more people continue to switch from driving along to transit, biking, and vanpools. TCC's own Bill LaBorde is quoted.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reminder: Friday Forum Lunch in the PARK Celebrate PARK(ing) DAY is Tomorrow!

FRIDAY FORUM: Join Us for Lunch in the PARK Celebrate PARK(ing) DAY
Have lunch plans for tomorrow? Join us for lunch in the park. We're taking over a bunch of parking spaces in Seattle and Tacoma and turning them into parks! And we want you to bring your lunch and hang out at our parks tomorrow, September 18th to celebrate PARK(ing) Day, a global day when parking spots temporarily become public parks. It's a day to remember that Parking Spots = Public Spaces. Public space is limited and valuable and it's an opportunity to rethink the way we balance the use of that space between people and cars.

Stop by either park to show your support and say hello. Transportation Choices Coalition is partnering with the Cascade Land Conservancy, Zipcar, Cascade Bicycle Club , and University of Washington Tacoma to to celebrate PARK(ing) day in Seattle and Tacoma! There will be giveaways, plenty of information and a bicycle-powered smoothie machine!

For information about PARK(ing) DAY, check out

WHEN: Friday, September 18, 10am-2pm
WHERE: 1st Ave between University and Seneca
Co-hosted by: Transportation Choices Coalition, Cascade Land Conservancy, Zipcar, and the Cascade Bicycle Club

WHEN: Friday, September 18, 10am-2pm
WHERE: Pacific Ave and 19th Street in front of the University of Washington Tacoma (near the UWT Starbucks)
Co-hosted by: Transportation Choices Coalition, Cascade Land Conservancy , Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce and the University of Washington Tacoma

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

King County Metro Transit Audit Report Released

King County recently posted the full metro audit findings on their website.

I have not had time to dig into it yet, but for all you policy wonks out there, here it is for your reading pleasure (second item down)!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Creating Safer and Healthier Suburbs, Starting in Burien: Guest Blog Post

The Transportation Choices Coalition board recently endorsed the Burien Safe Sidewalks campaign.

Today discussing the measure is a guest blog post from the campaign chair, Burien Planning Commission Chair, and friend of TCC, Joe Fitzgibbon. Please consider supporting this effort and enjoy the guest post.

From Joe:
Throughout our region, two critical modes of transportation that suffer from a lack of adequate infrastructure are walking and bicycling. The deficiency in infrastructure is most stark in the suburbs and in neighborhoods at the margins of urban centers. These neighborhoods -- in Seattle, think Rainier Beach, Delridge, Georgetown, Greenwood, Lake City -- tend to be dense, close to transit, and close to jobs and commerce. Because walking and biking are less safe in these neighborhoods than it is in those with better infrastructure -- Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard, the U District -- more people end up driving.

One of King County's most forward-thinking suburbs, Burien, has proposed taking a big step to start to address its own shortage of good pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. The city formed a Transportation Benefit District specifically devoted to the completion of certain high-priority pedestrian and bike projects from the 2004 Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities Master Plan and asked the voters to consider a $25 vehicle license fee to pay for the improvements. TBDs, which the Legislature authorized as a tool for local governments to fund transportation improvements, have been formed in other cities in region, but Burien's is the first in Western Washington devoted specifically to pedestrian and bicycle projects. The fee will last two years and will be on the November ballot.

An important component of Burien's plan is the fact that improvements will make it possible for students at Cedarhurst Elementary School to walk and bike to school safely. As it is, kids who walk or bike to Cedarhurst are walking and biking in the margins of the road with traffic. Understandably, many parents are reluctant to send their kids to school this way. Safer pedestrian and bicycle facilities will make it possible for more kids to get to school without motorized transport, helping them develop active and healthy habits that will stay with them into adulthood.

Cities throughout the region and the state are watching Burien to see if voters are willing to slightly increase their taxes for badly needed tangible improvements in infrastructure. Will we see other cities take the plunge and ask voters to pay for comparable improvements? If the vote in Burien fails, it's unlikely that suburban city councilmembers elsewhere will have the appetite to take the chance. If the vote succeeds, other cities will be emboldened to go for it.

Burien is a progressive city, voting overwhelmingly last fall to approve ST 2 and to increase property taxes to pay for two new fire stations. However, approval of the vehicle license fee is not going to be an easy sell. The Safe Sidewalks Now campaign is working to get the word out about the vote, but we need your help. The most important thing you can do is to tell your friends in Burien about the opportunity to improve their bike and pedestrian infrastructure. You can also help by writing a check to support the effort financially. If you're interested in helping make our region more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, which will reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road and promote transit ridership, please consider supporting the effort.

For more information, contact Joe Fitzgibbon of Safe Sidewalks Now at or visit Checks made out to Safe Sidewalks Now can be mailed to (UPDATED ADDRESS) 615 SW Ambaum Blvd. #204, Burien, WA, 98166.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sound Transit listens to Citizens' Concerns in Tacoma over Controversial Lakewood Sounder Extension

There has been a lot of recent controversy over the D to M street Sounder overpass in Tacoma that Sound Transit is building to get the Sounder to Lakewood.

The TNT announced today that for essentially no addition cost to the public they will be building a post and beam structure instead of the earthen berm. This looks like a great compromise and hopefully helps quell some of the radical controversy around this project and helps keep in on track.

From the TNT:
Sound Transit says it will build a bridge -- not an earthen berm -- over the so-called B-Street Gulch within its project site to install light rail tracks through Tacoma's Dome District.

The design change for that part of the project largely was spurred by community concerns about aesthetics and wildlife, Jim Edwards, Sound Transit's director of capital projects, said this week.

"In the past several months, we became aware of the potential for a habitat trail through the gulch area," Edwards said. "That caused us to go back and reevaluate things."

Although bridges typically cost more than berms do to build, Edwards said, the move likely will not increase overall project costs because it will off-set additional costs needed for that area under previous construction plans. Overall, the D to M Street project cost estimates remain at about $160 million, he said.

Sound Transit still plans to largely build an earthen berm to elevate and extend tracks over Pacific Avenue near 25th Street, as part of 1.4-mile project to connect the D to M Street Sounder rail lines.

Opponents support a so-called "post and beam" construction option they view as a less obtrusive alternative to a berm, which they argue would visually and physically divide the neighborhood.

Several neighborhood and environmental groups recently have sent Letters and emails to city officials, lobbying for design changes at the B street ravine and other key points along the project site. Some contend the ravine, the deepest point along the project site, is a key corridor for wildlife.

The new bridge design over the ravine will be a bridgedeck set on columns at either end, providing for an open structure, Edwards said.

"The bridge structure can easily be described as accomplishing what the post and beam intended to do," Edwards said.

It allows the ravine to remain in its natural state and provides clearance for animal passage, he said. It also eliminates additional costs under the previous berm design, which would have required expansive digging and installation of protections to subterranean city utility lines, Edwards said.

Sound Transit previously had planned to fill in the ravine with an earthen berm, which would have been the widest such berm -- 75 to 80 feet -- in the D to M street project area. Most of the proposed berms along the line range from about 20 to 40 feet wide, he said.

Although the plans have changed at the B-Street Ravine, designs for the remainder of the D to M street site remain largely the same.

"We still believe, when we looked at the options and the terrain, the best alternative for the rest of the structure is the earthen embankment," Edwards said.

Julie Anderson, Tacoma's Deputy Mayor and a Sound Transit Board member, said earlier this week she has yet to see any cost estimates or design plans for the proposed change.

"From what I hear, (the new bridge design) creates a sense of permeability and addresses the environmental concerns and protects utilities," Anderson said.

October 1st Tacoma Mayoral/City Council Transportation and Land-Use Forum

Please save the date an join us for this exciting event!

Tacoma Mayoral/City Council Transportation and Land-Use Forum

The Puget Sound Regional Council predicts that the City of Tacoma is expected to grow by 127,000 people in the next 30 years. Earlier this year the City proactively planned for this growth by passing the Mixed-Use Centers update, fulfilling this vision of creating vibrant mixed use centers is an exciting opportunity with many challenges.

What will Tacoma’s Transportation system look like in 20 years? Will our streetscape be dotted with streetcars, bike lanes, and working sidewalking next to walkable mixed-use communities? How will we manage our growth in a way that creates vibrant neighborhoods and urban centers? What transportation infrastructure and policies will be needed to keep our city moving and encourage smart development? What is the role of parking policy in the discussion? How will we pay for the transportation and land-use challenges that lie ahead? How will the city integrate its economic development and climate change goals with its land-use and transportation plan?

On Thursday, October 1st, Please Join Transportation Choices Coalition, The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and an exciting group of co-hosting organizations for an evening lively debate as we pose these questions of this nature to the Tacoma City Council and Mayoral Candidates.

The forum is open to the public, and transportation related questions for the candidates can be submitted prior to the event to For general event questions or media inquires contact Andrew Austin at

When: Thursday, Oct 1st, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Carwein Auditorium, UWT

Event Co-Hosts: Transportation Choices Coalition, The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, University of Washington Urban Studies Program, Futurewise, Cascade Bicycle Club, Tacoma Wheelman’s Bicycle Club, Tacoma Sun, Cascade Land Conservancy, Exit 133,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Live Blogging at Sound Transit Board Meeting

I am at the nice air conditioned Union Station live blogging at Sound Transit's Board meeting.

So far they've showed a video of the pedestrian bridge being installed at the SeaTac station, which was exciting, and now CEO Joni Earl is giving an agency update. Ridership continues to be slightly down from last summer's record high levels and contract bids continue to come in under bid across the board.

On the agenda for today is a discussion of PSRC's Transportation 2040, which should fold into long term Sound Transit discussions (and ST 3). It should be interesting. Stayed tuned.

1:48-In Joni's update she gave an update on various federal grants they are going after. She noted that while ST apply directly for High Speed rail money some of the projects that WSDOT applied for would directly benefit Sounder. The biggest application was for 60 some million to rebuild the wooden train trestle in Tacoma that brings the trains into Freighthouse Square (where Amtrak will operate as well once the Pt. Defiance Bypass is complete). Building a permanent Tukwilla station is another project on WSDOT's High Speed rail list that would also benefit Sounder. She also mentioned that Sound Transit is applying for the TIGER grant, part of the Federal Stimulus package. The projects they are applying for funds under that grant are extending central link south to 200th Street from Seatac as well as the Sounder D to M project in Tacoma. UPDATE: I got clarification on the potential Link extension. The grant would fund the extension of Central Link from Seatac airport to 200th St and 99 in South Seatac. This is the next planned station on the Sound Link extension. If they got this grant from the TIGER funds the South Seatac station would be accelerated ahead rapidly. I am not sure what effect if any this would have on the rest of the South Link extension.

1:50-Dow Contantine brought up a discussion about what ST's contingency plan is if the Kent Valley floods (which apparently could very well happen in the coming months). ST said they would have to reroute bus routes as well as possibly cancel South Sounder Service if that happened. Patterson stated she is worried I-5 would fail if 167 was flooded. Sounds Dicey!

1:56-Ric Ilgenfritz is stating the presentation on PSRC. PSRC is asking the board which light rail and commuter rail (HCT) extensions PSRC should include in Transportation 2040 and how those expansions should be funded. Staff is asking the board to think about which problems should be in the financially constrained portion of T2040 (meaning the planning would be to fund and build those projects by 2040) or in the unconstrained portion (meaning the funding plan would not be completed and it the timeline is less defined).

2:00-The Board is looking at the map for ST's long range plan. It is a pretty site. Can you imagine light rail stretching from Tacoma Community College to Burien to Everett and Bothell? The map being shown is only the Light Rail portion of the long term plan. McCarthy asked why no other South Sound projects are on the long term plan. Staff clarified that the Sounder extension from Lakewood to DuPont is still in the long range plan but the map only shows light rail extension. They also clarified that no other Light Rail projects beyond Tacoma Community College are in the Long Range.

2:07-Patterson (who chair's the PSRC Transportation Policy Board) stated that they should ask to have all of ST's long-term plan included in Transpo 2040. She stated that it makes sense to have all expansions beyond ST 2 go into the unconstrained portion of 2040 because is not dedicated funding for those projects yet. Patterson then asked if they could recommend projects beyond and outside of ST's long range plan into the Transpo 2040. She went on to say, "The easy part is what to put in the unconstrained plan lets just put everything in there. The hard part is what we include in the constrained portion of the plan (where the path for funding in clear)."

2:13-McCarthy is now asking why ST did not decide extend the light rail system further South of Tacoma and connect it to Olympia. Nickels and Joni calmly answered her question. Nickels mentioned that extending the commuter rail to Olympia and DuPont was in the original 1995 discussions. Joni chimed in stating that Commuter rail would make more sense in the Tacoma to Olympia corridor in terms of technology and cost effectiveness. She pointed out that there is a good heavy rail corridor there already that ST owns and with the land use south of Tacoma heavy rail would be a more cost effective technology. Joni also mentioned that they have been in discussions with Thurston County over the past 3 years about a potential Sounder extension to Olympia.

2:18-Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow chimed in that he thinks Sounder to Olympia would be great. He also stated that he thinks Sounder would be much more successful if it had limited midday and weekend service.

2:19-Julie Patterson tried to bring the conversation back on track in terms of what they are trying to accomplish for the meeting in connection to the Transportation 2040 plan.

2:22-A lively debate has come up about if building light rail outside of the UGA is bad policy (in relation to the demand due to the Issaquah highlands).

2:24-Councilmember Conlin requested that a light rail connection from Ballard directly to Northgate be added to the PSRC's 2040 plan. McCarthy said that's great, but she is concerned that Lakewood is not connected at all by the plan (Sounder is not on the current map being shown, although it is in ST's plan. I am not sure if McCarthy doesn't realize that Sounder isn't shown on this map, or if she is indirectly arguing that Light Rail should be extended to Lakewood).

2:30-Tacoma Coucilmember Julie Anderson is bringing up some process issues. She wants the board to come up with a process to think beyond the long term plan and take more time than what is allowed to grapple with some of the challenging topics being brought up (such as extending service beyond ST's current boundaries, which would be needed to get Sounder to Olympia.)

2:32-They have moved past HCT extension discussions and are talking about tolling as it related to the Transportation 2040 plan. They board unanimously agreed, informally without a vote, that a portion of regional tolling dollars should go to help fund transit. The board then restated its position that transit vehicles should not be charged tolls and asked staff to convey that to PSRC.

2:38-Conversation around T2040 is wrapping up. Lots of good thoughts and ideas were kicked around. They are moving into an update from the Citizen's Oversight Panel.

2:52-The COP discussion has wrapped up, there wasn't anything too exciting there. Now they are taking public testimony. Will Kenedlic (sp) is testifying and complaining about Sound Transit in general, their bonding practices, and says ST unfairly attacks Kemper Freeman. He also complained that "the turbulence on the Link in Tuwkilla was as bad as the turbulence over he experienced earlier in the day flying over the Rockies". He is now yelling at the board telling the board members that they are criminally liable in the State of New York if they do not role back the ST1 sales tax after ST1 is completed and collect over 17.8 Billion dollars over the course of ST 2.

2:58- Perennial public commenter, who I heard earlier today at a PSRC Transportation Policy Board meeting, Paul W. Lock is testifying in front of the board. He is complaining about cost overruns and taxes saying there people can't afford these taxes or projects. Like usual he spoke over his time and is quite flustered.

3:01-Tom Jones from the Cascadia Institute is testifying. He is giving a general update about Cascadia and talking about the need to move forward on the East Side Rail BNSF rail corridor. He mentioned the Sonomia-Marin Rail and Trail corridor tour that Cascadia is hosting and re-invited the ST Board members. The Sanoma-Marin project is similar to the East-side Rail Project being on an historic rail corridor and connecting suburbs. One of the things they will be looking at on the tour is why the per-mile costs on the Sonoma Marin projects cost are .75% less than the ST estimates for the Eastside Rail corridor.

3:07-They are now discussing the need to increase the contingency funds by $1.7million to deal with the geological voids above the Beacon Hill Tunnel that are leading to unstable ground conditions there. The Motion passed unanimously.

3:26pm-they are wrapping up with some administrative business including approving the the issuance of ST2 bonds, which right now they can get at a low rate.

Re the long term plan discussion and Transportation 2040, check out this long range plan map

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brewing Controversy Over the Columbia River Crossing

I spent the weekend down in Vancouver and Portland to attend a wedding and visit family.

While i was down there I met with some folks who are working on increasing active transportation in the Clark County area and monitoring the Columbia River Crossing. The group I met with was connected to an great non-profit called community choices.

We chatted a lot about the controversy that continues to brew around the proposed 12 lane bridge rebuild to cross the Columbia between Vancouver and Portland.

Upon my return i stumbled upon this blog post from our friends at 1000 Friends of Oregon. It is an Op-Ed from some OR legislators on the CRC and is well worth the read.

Clearly with a project of this scope and expense there is going to a lot of controversy. We'll continue to monitor this one and it lugs along.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Settling the Stage for a top two Republican Battle in the 2nd Legislative District?

Brad Shannon at the Olympian today gives a critical update on the political shuffling going on in East Pierce County. Last week Tom Campbell announced that he would not challenge Adam Smith for his Congressional seat. A few days earlier J.T. Wilcox of the Wilcox farms family announced he would run for the legislature in the 2nd legislative district to fill Campbell's spot.

Today Shannon reports that Wilcox will stay in the race and run against Campbell in 2010 setting the stage for a potential Republican v. Republican battle royale in the general election due the the top two primary.

This could be a fight that is very interesting to watch. Campbell, who cites his commitment to finishing the cross-base highway as one of the primary reasons he wants to return to Olympia, is a moderate Republican who chairs a committee in the Democratically controlled House and has run as a Democrat in the past. In Shannon's article it is clear that Wilcox is pushing an anti-establishment anti-incumbent message highlighting his financial and business experience. No Democrats have jumped into the race yet.

For all of your political junkies out there; keep your eyes peeled to this one.

J.T. Wilcox

Rep. Tom Campbell

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More Bus Service on the Chopping Block, This Time at Kitsap Transit

The Kitsap Sun reports more bad news as bus service around the state continues to face the chopping block of devastating service cuts. Local transit agencies are in crisis mode across the urban, rural, and suburban counties in Washington.

The article does a good job articulating the difference between operating and capital dollars, highlighting that while the State and Feds help with capital expenses their operating funds (funded by volatile local sales tax) are falling into a tailspin.

Because operating and capital funds come from different pots and can’t be interchanged, service development director John Clauson explained Tuesday during the first of 12 public meetings about $900,000 in proposed service cuts.

“Unfortunately, the money used for the ferry and construction of Charleston (bus barn) are capital grants,” he said. “We don’t have the option to use them for operating funds.”

The transit funding crisis continues to spread across the state as riders are stranded on the side of the road. Solutions are needed now and ball in the Legislature's court.

Kitsap Transit buses in jeopardy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How is ORCA working for you?

Sound Transit wants to know how ORCA is working for you.

Go to their ORCA website and click on the survey and you can make sure to share your thoughts, praises, suggestions, and complaints to Sound Transit regarding the new ORCA card (it takes about 5 minutes).

Here is the website where you can get the survey link:

This survey provoked me to do some reflection as an ORCA user. Generally speaking I have been largely satisfied with the program. It is easy to use, the website is very user friendly, and as someone who takes Sounder, ST buses, Pierce Transit, and Metro often the seamless interface is great. I have heard of a lot of folks having problems with the readers but for me those issues have been few and far between. I also like that you can track your trips online and see where the money is going. The only improvement I would ask for is a e-purse/pass hybrid option where you buy e-purse and once you use it to a certain level it switches over automatically to a puget pass for that month. All an all though I think its been a big benefit from a transit riders perspective. What do you think? Let me know and take the survey.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cross-Base Controversy Continues

The controversy surrounding cross-base highway and the celebration that WSDOT help last week continues to heat up.

Erica over a Publicola has gives the story lengthy coverage here.

In related news, Tom Campbell recently announced that he will not run against Congressman Adam Smith and will instead remain in the State Legislature. He cites his commitment to finishing cross-base highway as one of his primary reasons for staying put in the legislature. The Nisqually Vally News has that report here.

Our friend Jen has photos from the celebration event, which I attended with her, on her flicker.

Here is the full press release the environmental community released after celebration last week:

August 26, 2009

Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest, (206) 940-7914
Krystal Kyer, Tahoma Audubon, (253) 232-9978.
Andrew Austin, Transportation Choices Coalition, (253) 732-9434

Controversial Highway Project Continues to Attract Opposition
Conservationists, local businesses, and citizens still oppose new highway construction across rare and endangered prairie habitat

This morning, opponents of the Cross-Base Highway (SR 704) showed up to an event intended to celebrate the completion of the first phase of the controversial project in Pierce County. The Washington Department of Transportation hosted the event as the completion of the first section of the Cross-Base Highway and introduction of the first new state route since 1997. The project has drawn strong opposition since its inception, because it would bisect the largest remnant oak woodland-prairie left in western Washington and drive out local equestrian businesses. Opponents also are concerned the project would encourage undesirable sprawl and waste taxpayer money on building an expensive new highway when less expensive alternatives have not been seriously considered.

“While the Spanaway Loop Road improvements are very much needed, politicians are making empty promises about building a road we can’t afford and we don’t need,” stated Bryan Flint, Executive Director of Tahoma Audubon.

Voters rejected Proposition 1 in November 2007, which included funding for the Cross-Base Highway. Funding for traffic improvement to the intersection at Pacific Ave (SR 7) and 176th Ave has come from the State transportation budget, but there is no funding available for the next phase of the proposed construction of the new highway. “In these tough economic times, it is highly questionable to be planning for construction of a destructive new highway in Washington State when we cannot find the dollars to maintain our existing road system,” said Jen Watkins of Conservation Northwest. “Taxpayers are taking note of these irresponsible decisions.”

The proposed Cross-Base Highway would be a four-lane, six-mile brand new highway that would run along the northern border of Fort Lewis in Pierce County bisecting one of the last remaining oak prairie woodlands in western Washington. The unique oak woodland-prairies, today the rarest habitat type in Washington State, once covered nearly 150,000 acres across the south Puget Sound lowlands. Today, because of development, agriculture, and other factors, only about 3 percent remains.

The proposed highway still faces multiple unresolved legal issues on its environmental analysis and was repeatedly held up as a bad example and low priority for funding during the discussions around the failed Roads and Transit ballot measure in 2007.

”The Cross Base project is just as bad for habitat, sprawl, and greenhouse gas emissions now as it was when voters rejected the funding package in 2007,” stated Tim Gould of the Sierra Club Cascade Chapter’s Transportation Committee.

He continued that “at a time when we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and adjust to future rising energy prices, the proposed Cross-Base Highway would move us in the wrong direction.”

In a 2003 public poll on regional transportation planning and projects contracted by the Regional Transportation Investment District, the Cross-Base Highway ranked last of all proposed Pierce County projects, with only 10% of those polled stating it was a project of importance to the region. “There are many Pierce County projects on the table that have widespread support and are crucial for regional mobility,” stated Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “We should focus limited taxpayer dollars on completing 167, extending the Pierce County HOV network, and supporting local transit agencies.”

“The bottom line is that we cannot support wasting taxpayer dollars on a project that destroys some of the last remaining oak woodland prairie in western Washington, especially when reasonable alternatives exist,” commented Dave Werntz, Science and Conservation Director of Conservation Northwest.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service believes that the remaining South Puget Sound prairies may be possibly the rarest habitat in North America, home to at least 29 species of federal and/or state threatened, endangered, candidate and sensitive plant and animal species of concern, 18 of which are in the immediate vicinity of the proposed Cross-Base Highway.