Thursday, June 30, 2011

How Can We Stop the 17% Metro Bus Cuts?

In the last year, demand for Metro transit service has increased by 5%. And yet, now we face 17% cuts to bus service. Seems a little backwards, doesn't it?

What can you do about this? Write a letter to the King County Council telling them to pass the congestion reduction charge, which would stop the cuts. You can click here and submit it online. It only takes a minute.

Make your voice heard and stop the cuts!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Pierce County Bike Map

Attention, Pierce County bicyclists. Finding your way around the area just got easier.

The map highlights roads with wide lanes, paved shoulders, designated bicycle lanes, and shared-use trails. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

KING COUNTY HEARINGS: Metro Cuts and Congestion Reduction Charge

The King County council's Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee will be hosting three hearings to offer citizens opportunities to testify on proposed transit cuts as well as the proposed $20 congestion reduction charge on vehicles. Committee chair Larry Phillips clearly outlines the choice at stake:

“King County has a choice of cutting 17 percent of our transit service—taking the system back to 1996 service levels—or preserving current service levels" by enacting the congestion fee.

All meetings will start at 6:00 p.m. and will be held in Kirkland, Seattle and Burien. We encourage everyone in King County to attend one and make their voices heard!

Wednesday, July 6
Kirkland City Council Chambers
123 Fifth Avenue

Tuesday, July 12
King County Courthouse, Council Chambers,
10th Floor
516 Third Avenue

Thursday, July 21
Burien City Council Chambers
400 S.W. 152nd Street 

All meetings start at 6pm 

More info at

Tacoma Link: Extended Hours Wednesday

Tacoma Link will operate until 12:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 29, to accommodate crowds attending the Britney Spears concert at the Tacoma Dome. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m., with pre-event activities starting at 5:00 p.m.

Sound Transit buses, Link light rail, and Sounder trains will operate on regular weekday schedule.

Riders can sign up to receive automatic e-mail service alerts for Tacoma Link, ST Express, Sounder Seattle-Everett, Sounder Seattle-Tacoma, or Central Link. Rider Alerts can inform you about special service to events, alert you to holiday schedule changes, and help you plan your trip around inclement weather.

CONTACT: Kimberly Reason-(206) 689-3343 or

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jackson Plaza Opening: A Major Transit Hub and Public Space

Today, Mayor McGinn cut the ribbon on the new Jackson Plaza at King Street Station. He spoke of the plaza as an important part of a bigger plan, linking great communities like the International District and Pioneer Square with the rest of the region, and creating more pleasant, walkable spaces in the city. He praised the plaza's earthquake-proof, environmentally sustainable design. Finally, he thanked the many people and groups who made this possible.

Linda Gehrke spoke on behalf of the Federal Transit Administration. She reminded the crowd that the restoration of King Street Station has been ongoing since 1996. She spoke of the Obama administration's support for livable, sustainable communities, which led it to approve funding for Jackson Plaza.

Lorne McConachie spoke for the Pioneer Square Preservation Board. He discussed how transportation has been a huge part of Seattle's history since its inception, including the Yukon gold rush and the transcontinental railroad.

Leslie Smith spoke on behalf of the Alliance for Pioneer Square about the future of King Street Station. She predicted that King Street Station would become an even more important transit hub as it develops more connections, and would help make the city more walkable.

There was a good turnout, the sun eventually came out, and all the speakers were enthusiastic and proud of the plaza.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grand Opening of King St Station's Jackson Plaza

Check out this exciting event taking place tomorrow!

Friday June 24th, 10:30am – 11:15 am.
King Street Station, 303 S Jackson St, Seattle
Remarks by
Mayor McGinn
Linda Gehrke, Deputy Regional Administrator, Region 10, Federal Transit Administration
Lorne McConachie, Chair, Pioneer Square Preservation Board
Leslie Smith, Alliance for Pioneer Square

Edmonds City Council Passes Complete Streets 6-0

Last Tuesday, the Edmonds City Council unanimously approved a Complete Streets ordinance which pledges that the city will plan, design, and implement transportation projects accommodating pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. However, the ordinance included many exceptions. The Complete Streets guidelines will not be enforced in cases where there is no identified need for them or the cost is determined to be disproportionate to "currents need or probable future uses."

TCC testified in favor of the ordinance with suggestions to strengthen it down the road by removing some of the exceptions.  It is great to see more and more cities adopting complete streets across Washington State!

More at

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

520 Bridge Final EIS and Transit

The final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the 520 bridge project is completed. Here at TCC we are working through the very lengthy document, and have some preliminary thoughts about transit and the final EIS. Transportation Choices Coalition has a long history with this project; we served on the Trans-Lake Corridor Study Committee in the late 90s on through to the mediation process in 2008.

The EIS presents the preferred alternative - a six lane corridor from I-5 to Medina that includes two general-purpose lanes and one transit/HOV lane in each direction. The option includes 1,400-foot-long Montlake lid with bicycle and pedestrian paths that connect the Arboretum, the Bill Dawson Trail and McCurdy Park, and a second Bascule Bridge across the Montlake Cut. The option preserves a space between the west approach bridge structures that could accommodate potential future light rail to connect to the University Link light rail station. The preferred alternative has a 14-foot-wide bicycle/pedestrian path across Lake Washington and a stormwater treatment facility.

Throughout the development of SR 520 plans, we have consistently focused on the need for a robust transit mitigation plan for the construction phase followed by a funded transit plan for the corridor once the bridge becomes operational. A fully funded transit plan is reliant on flexible use of tolling revenue to fund transit and other alternatives to driving across the bridge. We have also advocated for variable tolling to manage congestion on the corridor. Here are some preliminary thoughts about transit interests in the final EIS.

1. Transit mitigation plan for the construction phase

The final EIS did not alleviate our ongoing concerns that a plan for transit mitigation is not complete and not addressed in the EIS. The EIS responds to our request for a transit mitigation plan and funding, in saying, “This [transit mitigation] will be part of the overall construction traffic management plan that will be developed in conjunction with more detailed construction plans.” We are eager to see these plans and ensure that a robust and funded mitigation plan will be implemented.

2. Funded transit plan for the corridor which includes flexible use of tolling revenue to fund transit and other alternatives to driving across the bridge

We are pleased that the preferred alternative will include 3+HOV lanes. These lanes will accommodate both transit and carpools, and will help the expected 500-600 buses that will run across the bridge each weekday, operate at consistent speeds and reliability. Yet, we still have concerns that funding for the transit plan is not adequately addressed in the EIS. With the imposition of tolls and more predictable travel times on the corridor, transit usage will increase dramatically. We think that tolling revenue is an obvious source to fund adequate transit service and transit mitigation.

Currently flexible tolls that would allow toll revenue to be used for transit operations are not authorized by the legislature for this project. In response to our comments in the supplemental EIS, WSDOT states, “Redirecting tolling revenue to support transit service would require legislative changes that are unlikely in the foreseeable future.”

There is some money for transit on 520 that has been authorized. New transit facilities were funded through the federal Urban Partnership Agreement, and operating funds are being collected through property tax authorization, but more money is needed to fully implement the plan and ensure that reliable and affordable transit options are available to address economic justice concerns that come with high bridge tolls.

It is concerning that there is still no clarification where funding for the additional transit service will come. Given the current financial crisis of King County Metro and Sound Transit, increased funding for planned transit service is necessary, and if funding for this service cannot come from toll revenue, where will this increased funding come from in this time while transit agencies budgets are severely hurting? WDSOT points out that increased transit is planned, funded or implemented through the King County Metro’s Transit Now! Program, but this program is currently not bringing in the revenue that it expected because of the dip in sales tax. The state leadership must step up to ensure that the increased transit service planned for the preferred alternative can become a reality.

Furthermore, the final EIS states that because of new investments in transit services across SR 520 and rideshare and vanpool options fewer low-income populations would be adversely affected by the toll than previously assumed, because there are now more affordable alternatives to paying the toll. According to guidance that WSDOT received from FWHA, this minimizes the effect of the toll on low-income populations, coupled with the fact that everyone will benefit from a safer bridge. The analysts concluded that there would be no disproportionately high and adverse effect as a result of the toll, and therefore no mitigation is proposed. The problem with this finding is that it relies on full funding for the transit plan.

3. Variable tolling to manage congestion on the corridor

We have continually advocated for variable tolling for the 520 bridge and this option is at risk and may be prohibited if Tim Eyman gets his way. Eyman has filed an anti-tolling initiative (I-1125) and is colleting signatures for a full vote of the people in November. I-1125, backed by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, attempts to accomplish many things. It would require that the legislature sets tolls, not the Washington Transportation Commission, and any changes to the tolling would have to occur through the political process. It would prevent light rail across I-90, by pushing a section that requires that transportation taxes and tolls only go toward highway building purposes, and it would end variable-price tolling. If this measure goes to the voters, and if it passes, it will severely hamstring the ability to raise revenue to build the replacement and control congestion on the corridor. Everyone will be watching closely to see if this will go to a vote of the people in November. If this passes, our concerns about transit and 520 will grow deeper and more urgent for deliberate action to ensure that transit is fully funded through this transition and on the new 520 bridge.

ATTN Olympia-Tacoma bus riders: Service Changes in Effect

Route 603A is now called Route 602.

Route 603 trips serving Lacey Transit Center will now be called Route 605.

(Route 603 trips not serving Lacey will still be Route 603)

Route 603 now has an additional southbound departure from 10th and Commerce at 8:05am and an additional northbound departure from the Olympia Transit Center at 6:30pm.

Route 605 has an additional northbound departure from the Olympic Transti Center at 6:30am and an additional southbound departure from 10th and Commerce at 8pm.

More info at and

Innercity Transit has a full article on these changes at

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pierce Transit Adopts Ridersihp Based Cuts Last Night

Last night the Pierce Transit board passed their ridership-based cuts plan on a 4-3 vote. TCC has been working on this process at Pierce Transit for the past few months. No bus cuts are good cuts, but unfortunately, due to the economy and the failure of the Proposition 1 campaign last February (which we worked on), Pierce Transit cuts were inevitable. Thanks to the leadership of Marilyn Strickland and Jake Fey from Tacoma and the comments our members and supporters sent in, these cuts were done in the best way possible. The plan that went through final adoption last night, after hours of grueling and heartening public testimony, keeps over a million riders in the Pierce Transit system than the original “peanut-butter” based cuts plan did.

Transit cannot do everything for everyone and that is especially true during fiscally-constrained times. This ridership plan does the best the agency can under constrained budgets. As a silver lining, this plan makes the agency much more efficient, something the voters demanded with their Proposition 1 vote last February. Fixed-ridership system-wide right now costs $9/rider, after these cuts it will be $5/rider. Additionally, by focusing on efficiency, this plan sets the agency up for future success with the voters and rebuilding, and leaves the fewest number of riders as possible stranded at the bus stop.

Thank you for engaging on this process with us and stay tuned as we continue to work with Pierce Transit to restore lost service, especially in the evenings and weekends, in Pierce County in the months ahead.

Below is further coverage in the local media of the cuts this week:

Steve Fetbrandt. Lakewood Patch. “Pierce Transit Board Makes Cuts Official.” June 14, 2011.
Monday night, Pierce Transit adopted service cuts, eliminating Route 220, which goes through Tacoma, Lakewood, and Fircrest. 140 citizens attended the hearing, many objecting strongly to the cuts.

Stacia Glenn. Tacoma News Tribune. “Pierce Transit board OKs additional service cuts.” June 14, 2011.
Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners approved a second round of cuts Monday, affecting thousands of riders. Their plan eliminates 17 fixed-bus routes, while other routes will operate less frequently and for shorter hours of the day. At the last minute, the board delayed elimination of Route 496 from Sumner to Bonney Lake until February.

Jeanine Stewart. The Peninsula Gateway. “Pierce Transit issues final cuts to service reduction plan.” June 14, 2011.
Pierce Transit’s finalized cuts eliminated Bus PLUS Route 113 to Key Peninsula and Route 601, connecting Kimball Drive to Olympia. Route 496, along with some service to northeast Tacoma, was preserved. The cuts focused on ridership, efficiency, and serving the most densely populated areas.

John Discepolo. KOMO News. “Pierce Transit to cut another 15 routes despite riders' protests.” June 13, 2011.
Pierce Transit’s second round of cuts is supposed to help deal with a $51 million budget shortfall, but some who rely on this bus to get around fear they will lose mobility. Dozens of riders attended the hearing Monday and one voiced fears of losing her job.

Chris Daniels. KING-5 News. “Pierce Transit chops routes to overcome budget woes.” June 13, 2011.
Pierce Transit has eliminated Route 113 Key Peninsula and Route 61 Northeast Tacoma-Brown’s Point. Route 496 has been temporarily preserved and officials have until February to examine a long-term plan to fund for it. Starting in October, service hours will be weekdays 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Seattle – The first baby boomers turn 65 years old this year and seniors in the Puget Sound area are in danger of being unable to get around. The largest generation in history, Boomers are also the most dependent on automobile travel. Yet by 2015, many seniors ages 65 and older in the Puget Sound area will live in communities with poor options for people who do not drive, according to a new report. Many metropolitan areas in Washington state will see over a 70% increase in the number of seniors without adequate access to transit since 2000.

“It’s a tragedy that funding for public transportation is stalled when the need for public transit is set to take off with this demographic explosion,” said Steve Breaux, public interest advocate at the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG).

By the completion of the Baby Boom retirement surge in, projections estimate over 70 million Americans will be senior citizens. In the Portland, OR- Vancouver, WA metropolitan area, the number of older adults lacking adequate access to transit is projected to increase by 70% between 2000 and 2015, from approximately 83,000 seniors to 141,000 seniors. The Richland-Kennewick-Pasco area will face a staggering 91% increase, over 5000 seniors to over 10,000 seniors. In the Bellingham region, the number of seniors with poor access to transit will increase from over 6000 seniors to over 11,000 seniors, a 74% increase. The Yakima, WA region will face a 39% increase in seniors without adequate access to transit, from approximately 14,000 older adults to 19,000 older adults.

The report, Aging in Place, Stuck without Options, ranks metro areas by the percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation, now and in the coming years, and presents other data on aging and transportation.
By 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans ages 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent by 2015, the new study shows. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation “ages in place” in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive.

In rural areas and smaller towns and cities, the increasing demographic strains as the baby boomers age also presents transportation challenges. Nationwide, 23% of all seniors live in rural areas. Forty percent of rural residents nationwide live in counties with no public transportation services of any kind. Seniors who live in rural areas face the same transportation needs as other seniors as they age and are increasingly unable to drive, but there often are fewer transportation options in rural areas.

One of the most common types of public transportation available in rural areas is on-demand service, where eligible residents (usually the elderly, disabled, or low-income individuals) schedule their trips to services like medical appointments ahead of time. Federal funding is available to provide rural transit service for the elderly, disabled, low-income individuals, and tribal areas, but demand for these services often outstrips available resources. Transportation for America has provided on online map showing the change in seniors’ availability to transit in the Yakima, WA region. The rural areas outside of Yakima are expected to face a sharp increase in their senior population, where there is the least access to transit.

With only a small portion of older American relocating researchers already are seeing the emergence of so-called “naturally occurring retirement communities” as seniors age in place. That phenomenon is growing as baby boomers begin to turn 65. Across the country today, 79 percent of seniors age 65 and older live in suburban or rural communities that are largely car-dependent.

“The baby boom generation grew up and reared their own children in communities that, for the first time in human history, were built on the assumption that everyone would be able to drive an automobile,” said John Robert Smith, president and CEO of Reconnecting America and co-chair of Transportation for America. “What happens when people in this largest generation ever, with the longest predicted lifespan ever, outlive their ability to drive for everything? That’s one of the questions we set out to answer in this report.”

Without access to affordable travel options, seniors age 65 and older who no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65 percent fewer trips to visit friends and family, than drivers of the same age, research shows. As the cost of owning and fuelling a vehicle rises, many older Americans who can still drive nonetheless will be looking for lower-cost options.

“Our elected officials here in the Puget Sound region need to make sure that seniors don’t end up stuck in life as they drive less, “ said Breaux. “Older Americans should remain mobile, active and independent. That’s going to require better alternatives to driving.”

Aging in Place, Stuck without Options outlines a number of policy recommendations:
· Increase funding for improved service such as buses, trains, vanpools, paratransit and ridesharing;
· Provide funding and incentives for innovative practices among transit operators, nonprofit organizations, and local communities to serve seniors;
· Encourage state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and transit operators to involve seniors and the community stakeholders in developing plans for meeting the mobility needs of older adults;
· Ensure that state departments of transportation retain their authority to “flex” a portion of highway funds for transit projects and programs;
· Include a “complete streets” policy to ensure that streets and intersections around transit stops are safe and inviting for seniors.

The report is produced by Transportation for America, a coalition of more than 500 groups working on transportation reform today. To view the full report, the Yakima map, and to see the extended rankings, please visit

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 13th Panel on Transportation and Job Creation in Snohomish County

This Monday, the Snohomish County Council is having a panel discussion on how transportation can help create jobs and the economy grow. Specifically, these questions willl be asked:

1. What two or three key features does a transportation system need, regardless of mode, to make Snohomish County competitive for job creation?

2. Describe the importance of a good transportation system with limited or no congestion to employers including new businesses locating here, those currently located here, and those considering expansion here.

3. Discuss the transportation industry as a job creator, of both direct and indirect jobs, including the provision of transportation service, movement of freight, and construction of projects.

The members of the panel will be:

Steve Holtgeerts, Hogland Transfer Company, Inc

Rich White, The Boeing Company

Troy McClelland, Economic Alliance Snohomish County and Port of Everett

Dave Johnson, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades.

The panel will be held Monday June 13th at 10:30 in the Jackson Board Room (8th Floor of the Drewel Building). Even if you can't make it, they'll be streaming the meeting on their website and posting the video after, so you can watch it anytime. Just click on this link:
Click on "Public Works Committee" near the bottom of the page in the Archives section.
Then a list of meetings will appear and you can choose the video for June 13, 2011, 10:30.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Community Transit Holds Open Houses on Cuts while Planning for the Future

Community Transit CEO Joyce Elanor had a lengthy Op Ed in the Everett Herald yesterday that is well worth a read.

It is challenging to talk about long term visions for transit service in the midst of painful service cuts, but this Community Transit Op Ed does a good job at it I think.  Clearly with all of the needs for much more transit service in Snohomish County, not less, it is imperative that the Legislature provide agencies like commute transit options (locally approved non-regressive taxing authority) other than long term cuts.

In the meantime, Community Transit is stating fallen revenue from reduced sales-tax funding during the recession as a reason for proposed cuts in 2012.

How do you think cuts in bus service will affect your future employment scenario? Do you have ideas on how Community Transit can plan their future service?

If you are interested in knowing more about changes to Community Transit service in 2012, please attend and open house and to give the agency input.

Open Houses

Edmonds Community College, Snohomish Hall, Room 304
20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood
Tuesday, June 7, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Monroe High School
17001 Tester Road, Monroe
Wednesday, June 15
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Everett Station
3201 Smith Avenue, Everett
Wednesday, June 22
10 a.m. – noon

Arlington Boys & Girls Club
18513 59th Avenue NE
Thursday, June 23
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sound Transit to Alter and Cut Routes

Sound Transit sent out a press release day reminding people of the express bus scheduling changes that are coming town the pike June 11th.

Many of these scheduling changes are cuts to service as a cost cutting measure as Sound Transit faces a multibillion dollar ST2 hole.  Some of them are just modifications and one or two are actually increases to service.

The big changes of note:

Route 510 and 511 to Snohomish County are going to be eliminated on Sunday and replaced by the 512, which will be a combined run that will be slower especially between Everett and Seattle.  This change is only for Sundays (thankfully).
Midday weekday service on the 554 will go from every 15 minute to every 20 minutes between Seattle and Issaquah.
The Burien to West Seattle portion of the under-performing 560 will be eliminated except for weekday commute hours.
The 577 express between Federal Way and Seattle will get additional service to help with overcrowding issues between two of King County's (and probably the state's) strongest transit markets.

The whole list can be found on page two of the current transit guide and more background can be found here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Community Cuts plans to be announced today

I am sitting outside the Community Transit board room in Everett.

The hallways are packed as the meeting, which was scheduled to start at 3pm, has been in executive session for 45 minutes due to discussion of a legal matter.

Once the public board meeting starts the Community Transit board will be briefed on 3 alternative cuts proposals.  Like many transit agencies across the state Community Transit is facing massive cuts and layoffs due to declining sales tax revenues. With 15% cuts last year & the proposed cuts coming out today the total cuts will equal approximately 35% (about the same level at Pierce Transit's current cuts).  Unlike Pierce Transit, Community Transit is maxed out on their state allowed sales tax rate at .9%.

I will post live here as more details come out about the cuts proposals at today's board meeting, which hopefully will start soon!

4:15: An hour later the board is finally back in public session.  First up they took public testimony.  One guy testified and said that they should sell all of their buses and run a private car rideshare transit system.

Now CT staff is discussing previous layoffs at the agency up to this point.  Since the recession they have laid off 108 staff .  Those layoffs have been proportionally distributed between union and non union staff (meaning that the non union staff makes up the same percentage of the agency numerically than it did before the layoffs at 24% of the people in the agency).

4:24pm: Sales tax revenue in 2011 is pretty much flat since 2010 levels... at least it is not following.  CT's budget is also being strained due to increasing fuel costs.

And now there is a presentation on how the agency can hedge fuel...zzzz.

4:50: finally getting to the presentations on the cuts alternatives.  Yay!

This seems a little counter-intuitive to be able to do both...
Goals of the service change in all alternatives:
-Increase productivity
-Maintain at least basic geographic coverage
The Three plans are:
  1. Frequency reduction across the board with service 6 days a week
  2. Frequency reduction with some Sunday service added
  3. Route modification based more on productivity
Details of the plans at this being presented are quite vague, not getting into frequency specifics or route specifics except routes routes that are proposed to be eliminated in all three plans.

All three plans eliminate the last two hours of service at night ending bus routes at by 9:30 or 10pm.  All three routes also cut some UW Seattle service, which has very high productivity numbers.

Alternative one reductive of frequencies:
On weekdays (Saturday frequency reductions would be drastically worse):
-would take 15 min service down to every 30 minutes during not peak hours
-30 minute routes would go to 60 minutes
-60 minutes would go to 90 minute frequencies (with 120+ frequencies on Saturdays).

Alternative Two, reduction of frequencies with additional skeletal Sunday service:
-Similar to alternative 1 with more cuts needed Monday - Saturday to free up hours for Sunday.  Saturday service would be cut severely more, weekday midday non-peak hours with reduced frequencies would be extended by an hour.

Alternative 3, Route alternative network running Monday-Sat:
-Routes would become more efficient by straightening the bus routes, would double up routes on high frequency corridors with high ridership.
-frequency reductions on all of the routes especially high ridership routes would be much less severe.
-Saturday cuts are much less severe with this alternative.
-Seattle commuter service would be significantly streamlined and altered for money saving purposes (less one seat rides) to save money while maintaining access.  North, East, and South county commuters would have a commuter feeder routes to CT and ST express buses serving park into Seattle.  Some of the South County connector routes would actually be new service.

That concludes the rundown of the alternatives.  Asking the board for question and approval to roll out publicly with outreach plan (even though the alternatives are now public since they were presented at the board meeting).

It is proposed that these cuts are implemented in the Feb 2012 service change.

The board moved forward with putting out the alternatives to the public, didn't have any questions about the proposals, and they gave statements on their initial thoughts to the initial plans.  All of the board comments were fairly benign and didn't dive into details of plans.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Report Finds Deferred Road Repair a Financial time bomb for many states

Seattle, WA – Decades of deferred maintenance, and declining gas tax revenue have left many of Washington’s roads in poor condition, and the cost of pushing back repairs is growing at an alarming rate each year. A new report from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The report recommends changes at both the state and federal level that can reduce future costs, benefit taxpayers, and create a better transportation system.

The report, Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads, found that between 2004 and 2008 states spent only 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction. That means that 57 percent of the money was spent on one percent of the road network, while 43 percent of the money was dedicated to maintaining 99 percent of the system.  As a result of these spending decisions and declining revenue, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up.

“Washington State is being forced to make tough budget decisions and needs to find ways to reduce costs by shifting more of our existing transportation funds toward road repair. This will create jobs today, give our state the quality roads we need and save us dollars in the future,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “To get Washington moving again, we need to prioritize Washington’s spending decisions to focus on safety and repair first.”

“Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America. “The cost of repair rises as roads age. Fiscally responsible leaders will recognize that prioritizing funding for repair isn’t just a matter of smoother roads, it’s a matter of protecting taxpayers from future costs.”

Washington’s current conditions and spending priorities

As of 2008, 44 percent of Washington’s state-owned major roads were not in good condition.  These roads will be increasingly expensive to repair as maintenance is pushed farther back. In the same year, 56 percent of Washington’s roads were in good condition. Between 2004 and 2008 Washington spent $181 million annually on repair.

Washington would need to spend $426 million annually for the next twenty years to get the current backlog of poor-condition major roads into a state of good repair and maintain all state-owned roads in good condition. Delaying those repairs will only become more costly for the state. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, every $1 spent to keep a road in good condition avoids $6-14 needed later to rebuild the same road once it has deteriorated significantly.

“We have hundreds of millions if not billions dollars worth of crumbling roads and bridges that need to be fixed in Washington State. It’s critical that we fix what we have, and not waste valuable resources expanding the road network, which only leads to sprawl, congestion and pollution,” said Tim Gould, Transportation Chair of the Sierra Club, Washington Chapter. “The need to focus on repairing our aging infrastructure has never been greater and with that focus our transportation system can work better for all road users, including transit, freight and bicycles.”

More information about the high cost of delaying road repair, how other states invest their transportation dollars to cut costs and what leaders can do to address these concerns is available in the full report, at

Upcoming Open Houses for Proposed Community Transit Cuts

Mark your calendars especially if you are a Snohomish County Bus riders.  Community Transit will be launching a series of open houses leading up to their hearing on their proposed bus cuts plan.  The agency is being forced to cut back additional service in light of sales tax revenue declines.

Here is a list of all of their open houses starting next week! Please go and make your voice heard.

Public Process Schedule
Open House meetings: 
Mountlake Terrace Library, Large Meeting Room
Address: 23300 58th Ave W, Mountlake Terrace
Date: Monday, June 6
6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Edmonds Community College, Snohomish Hall, Room 0304
20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood
Tuesday, June 7
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Monroe High School Performing Arts Center
17001 Tester Road, Monroe
Wednesday, June 15
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Everett Station, Weyerhaeuser Room
3201 Smith Avenue, Everett
Wednesday, June 22
10 a.m. – noon

Arlington Boys & Girls Club, Community Room
18513 59th Avenue NE, Arlington
Thursday, June 23
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.