Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: “Transportation 2040″

by Matt Rosenberg May 12th, 2010

Today during my regular weekly radio segment on Seattle-based KOMO 1000 about the work of the Public Data Ferret project, I spoke with “Nine2Noon” show co-anchors Brian Calvert and Nancy Barrick about a report from a major regional planning agency that says the four counties of Central Puget Sound will need to raise $64 billion more than we’ve got coming, to do surface transportation right over the next three decades. Here’s the original Ferret write-up of the report, which along with other finds from government sites is indexed by jurisdiction and subject at our own Public Data Ferret database. Here’s the audio of today’s Ferret radio. The full transcript follows, below.

Brian Calvert: “So how many more billions are you willing to pay to relieve traffic congestion here in Western Washington? Matt Rosenberg of communityforums.org, where you can use their Public Data Ferret feature, joins us on the line. And today Matt, the Ferret dug up an important vote on the future of transportation in our area. Can you tell us what ‘Transportation 2040′ is all about?”

Matt Rosenberg: “You bet. Good morning Brian and Nancy. You may remember there was an old radio show called “The $64,000 Question,” well, now we’ve got a $64 billion question here. The final draft of a big 30-year transportation plan for the four counties of Central Puget Sound says we’ll need $64 billion – with a “B” – more than the $125 billion we’ve already got coming to keep our system healthy and running, and improve it to handle major growth that’s down the road. This “Transportation 2040″ plan is very likely to be approved by the General Assembly of the Puget Sound Regional Council on May 20. And it gets a little specific. It suggests officials will need to work hard to sell voters on raising about $34 billion in system-wide tolling revenues and $30 billion more in transportation taxes and fees.”

“Now, we need to think of peanut butter spread thin, across the region, over time. We wouldn’t all be socked at once, and politicians and voters will have to decide. They say the big payoff will be that congestion actually gets reduced from current levels, and the environment and economy will be protected, despite a lot of growth.”

Nancy Barrick: “Matt?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Yes?”

Nancy Barrick: “So, you’ve looked this through. Of course, tolls, people always pay attention to that. And this plan is talking about some major possible changes when it comes to tolls. I mean, virtually, (there’s the) possibility of them being on most of the major highways?”

Matt Rosenberg: “They are looking at that, Nancy, that’s right. And it’s sort of known as ’system-wide tolling.’ And the idea is, partly, not only to raise the money – which is obviously going to put some people in a lather – but the idea is, if you’re driving in one of these express toll lanes, or HOT lanes, you want it to cover your whole trip. You don’t want that just to be on I-5, if you’re going from Northgate to your job in, say, Bellevue. So sort of a continuous fast trip for people, with buses using those same lanes to move faster, and a lot more incentives for carpooling and even “green vehicles” which could get a price break. But I think there’s going to be a big debate over doing that across the region, and two more big debates; about allowing the tolling revenue to be used partly for transit, and then that whole menu of additional taxes and fees – not tolls, but other taxes and fees that would have to be levied too. So, we’re in for some interesting times.”

Brian Calvert: “Well, Matt, it’s a big vote coming up in just a couple of weeks. If people would like to take a look at this “Transportation 2040″ plan, can you point us to a place online where we might be able to get the highlights of it?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Well sure. First they could come to Public Data Ferret through communityforums.org, but also, the whole plan is available at psrc.org, and you’ll see it right there on their main page, they’ve got a lot of links and a lot of good information.”

Nancy Barrick: “Matt Rosenberg of communityforums.org, and he’s got the Public Data Ferret.”

RELATED: Seattle PI.com coverage of our original Ferret article on “Transportation 2040.”

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