Tacoma Urbanist

Nov. 21, 2007 at 12:26am

Failure of Sound Transit Proposition 1 = Tolls?

Could the recent failure of Sound Transit Prosition 1 result in tolls on select projects? Apparently so.   If true, its about time.

Look for a major highway tolling bill to come out of the 2008 Washington Legislature, which convenes in January. Transportation leaders say they're confident they can pass legislation next year that will create a framework for how tolls will be imposed and collected down the road. That might not mean tolls will be collected anytime soon, however.

"I think everybody understands that tolling is in our future, there's just no question about it," says State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
. . .
"The message [from voters] is ... use user fees, and this is a user fee," says state Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, chair of the House Transportation Committee.

. . .

Jarrett says a different solution would be to tap the state budget surplus to help fund top-priority road projects. That could also help keep the price of tolls in the $3 to $6 range – something lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they're committed to doing. But so far, majority Democrats have resisted the idea of dipping into the general fund to pay for highway projects.

This is a good development.  Roads cost money and have detrimental effects on our environment.  There is simply no legitimate public policy reason for subsidizing them through sales or land tax given all of their externalized costs to society such as pollution, sprawl and loss of farmland. 

Is it appropriate to ask users who elect to use select bridges pay the costs of doing so?

At the very least, users of the bridges such as Seattle's 520 could pay the cost of using it.  The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is tolled.  Why not Seattle's bridges?

Looks like a "greener" and better solution may be worked out after all.


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