Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Liveblogging the JTC

I'm at the Joint Transportation Committee meeting at the absolutely beautiful new Redmond City Hall (their council chamber are plush).

The ferry system discussions are over and the committee is on to other items for discussion.

Right now the committee is item #5 regarding an update for the statewide transportation plan.  The presentation is pretty benign so far with some consultants going over plan integration and federal requirements for State transportation planning.

There are a surprising number of legislators here especially considering its campaign season.  Attending are Representatives Moeller, Armstrong, Takko, Clibborn, and Liias and Senators Haugen, Swecker, Hatfield, and Kastama.

Also it looks like TVW cameras are here so video will probably be online down the road.

Stay tuned

They've moved on to discuss refunds and taxes collected on non-highway fuel taxes (i.e. snowmobiles, boats etc.).  Still fairly dull discussion but tolling report is next!

WSDOT's tolling division has started its presentation on the 167 (Pierce County) and 509 (SeaTac to I-5) tolling studies.  Tolling on both projects could make a significant amount of money that could help pay for the construction projects.

On 509 it is estimated that traffic on the new road would be about half as much with tolling on the new road, but it would still be a net revenue and relieve congestion in the corridor.  Also interesting to point out all of their modeling assumes that transit vehicles would be exempt from the electronic tolls, this is a diversion from some current policy where transit is forced to pay tolls when crossing the Narrow's Bridge on Highway 16 between Gig Harbor and Tacoma.

Under full build option of 167 traffic diversion off of 167 would be around %50.  Diversion is worst on the West side of the highway near I-5. WSDOT studied also tolling 509 and HOT lanes on I-5 to get a sense on how that might raise revenue and lower diversion.  The more that is tolled revenue would increase modestly but get nowhere near covering the cost of the project (would cover less than %50 of the cost in every option.

WSDOT also studied what it would cost to build out 167 in a phased manner starting with just one lanes in each direction instead of two.  In this scenario tolling could cover almost %50 of the cost of the projects, in all other scenarios tolling could cover only around %10-15.  They heard from stakeholders at RAMP that the freight, government folks in Pierce County didn't want to look closely or seriously at the phased in build out of 167.

WSDOT gave an update on 520 bridge replacement.  Nothing new here, just an update on the meetings and funding picture.  Senator Haugen mentioned that she hopes the UW and the Mayor of Seattle stay on board and constructive in regards to the project.

They are now getting a DOL update.  I'm signing off.

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