RTID's transportation plan benefits north Snohomish Co.
by Beckye Randall
On the November 6 ballot, voters will be presented with a comprehensive transportation package named Proposition 1 or Roads and Transit. One of the agencies involved in the plan’s development is Sound Transit, with which the public is already familiar. The other planning committee, The Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) has been working mostly out of the public spotlight until now.
Despite the importance of the upcoming vote, fewer than 20 people were in attendance to hear details of the transportation plan at a recent local meeting.
The Regional Transportation Investment District Planning Committee was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2002 and charged with developing a transportation package to be submitted to voters in the fall of 2007 for improving significant highways and bridges in Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties.
Snohomish County representatives on the panel are County Council members Gary Nelson, Dave Gossett, John Koster, Kirke Sievers and Dave Somers.
On June 8 of this year, RTID presented a comprehensive plan for road and bridge improvements in its Blueprint for Progress. The plan addressed critical transportation needs throughout the Puget Sound region and included funding recommendations.
The projects endorsed in the proposal were carefully selected following input from local jurisdictions, residents and transportation agencies. The final cut includes improvements in north Snohomish County to I-5 interchanges at 88th Street NE and 116th Street NE in Marysville, widening SR 531 (172nd St. NE) from Smokey Pt. Blvd. to Hwy. 9, safety improvements on Hwy. 9 from Clearview to SR 92, arterial access improvements to the trestle, the downtown Monroe bypass road, and additional park and ride facilities.
The RTID district encompasses the entire Sound Transit district within Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, but it also includes areas north and east of the Snohomish County Sound Transit district. Residents who live in the RTID district outside of the Sound Transit district will only be subject to the RTID taxes, which includes a .1 percent sales tax increase and the car tab surcharge of $80 per $10,000 vehicle value.
Past transportation measures have been paid for with gasoline taxes, but the consensus to use sales tax as the funding vehicle was based on several factors. Washington state already imposes higher taxes on gasoline than most neighboring states, and gasoline consumption drops as prices rise, making it an unreliable source of funding.
The car tab surcharge “comes as close to a user fee as possible,” explained Al Aldrich of Strategies 360, a consulting firm that helped put the transportation together.
The beleaguered Sound Transit agency has had its struggles in the past. Patrice Hardy of Sound Transit said, “this is a very different agency than when we started.” Recent projects tackled by the agency have been on time and on budget, with full transparency to the public.
The projects included in the Roads and Transit package were reviewed for two years by a panel of experts from outside the state of Washington.
Marysville mayor Dennis Kendall said at the recent forum, “This funding is vital for economic development for all of north Snohomish County.”