September 22nd, 2008
Seattle Chamber: I-985 a step backwards
The Board of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce recently voted to oppose Initiative 985 because the increased traffic I-985 would create isn’t good for our workforce or our economy. Here are a few of the concerns cited by the chamber in its opposition statement:
Negative fiscal impact: The state’s Office of Financial Management estimates that I-985 would redirect approximately $600 million in state funds over five years. This could push the state budget deficit past $3 billion, which runs counter to the Chamber’s longstanding support for statewide fiscal responsibility and is unwise in a time of economic uncertainty. I-985 could also harm the state’s already stretched transit agencies, stripping an estimated $20 million over five years in federal transit funds as a result of opening HOV lanes to all traffic during non-peak hours. Additionally, the new account mandated by I-985 specifically bans the use of its funds for park and ride lots, ferries, buses and rail.
Untenable situation for SR 520 and I-90: The Chamber is playing a central role in the 520 mediation process. Although substantial progress has been made, financing the replacement continues to be an open question. Most finance plans assume more than $1 billion will be generated by tolls. Tolling 520 and not I-90, as this initiative would mandate, could have disastrous results for regional congestion.
Traffic light synchronization: Many cities across the state have already enacted the synchronization mandated by this initiative. Currently, fines from red light violations go to those cities or local jurisdictions. Under the initiative, they would be redirected to the new state “Reduce Traffic Congestion Account.” While this account does allow funds to be spent on synchronization, cities and local jurisdictions that have already installed cameras stand to lose $40 million over the next five years.
The NO on 985 Coalition is a diverse group of Washingtonians from many different backgrounds fighting to preserve and enhance the Evergreen State’s quality of life.