NO on I-976 effort ramps up with campaign launch in Olympia

From the Campaign Trail

This morning in Olympia, representatives from the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) and All Aboard Washington stood together at the Washington State Capitol in opposition to Tim Eyman’s latest destructive initiative, I-976, which would wipe out billions in funding for bipartisan, voter-approved transportation investments in every part of the state.

“We are here today to announce that we will be building a strong, broad, diverse coalition in opposition to Tim Eyman’s I-976 throughout 2019,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, a veteran of many successful campaigns against Eyman measures, including four campaigns that beat Eyman at the ballot in the last ten years: I-985 (2008), I-1033 (2009), I-1125 (2011) and I-517 (2013).

“In the coming weeks and months, our coalition will bring together businesses, labor unions, environmental organizations, civic groups, and concerned citizens to unite Washingtonians in opposition to this initiative and to uphold Evergreen State values like mutual responsibility and stewardship.”

“We rise or fall together as a state, which is why it is so important we continue to pool our resources so we can afford the things we need. This measure gravely threatens our state’s business climate, freedom of mobility, and future prosperity. It does so by gutting funding for many current and planned services: Amtrak Cascades, freight mobility projects, Sound Transit Link light rail, King County Metro bus service, and local roads.”

“Washington has suffered greatly over the past two decades from destructive Tim Eyman initiatives like I-695 and I-747. We simply can’t afford any more.”

“Legendary U.S. House Speaker Sam Rayburn once said that any fool can kick down a barn, but it takes a real carpenter to build one.”

“Here in Washington, we have real carpenters, ironworkers, pipefitters, crane operators, and other skilled laborers working to implement transportation investments that will move people and freight between our communities. Tim Eyman wants to put these people out of work and cancel these investments… all because he is ideologically opposed to any transportation mode that doesn’t involve an automobile. That’s wrong.”

“I-976 deserves to be emphatically rejected. We’re ready to get to work to make sure it is.”

Luis Moscoso, Government Affairs Director for All Aboard Washington, a rail advocacy organization, explained that I-976 threatens more than just Sound Transit’s projects, which tend to get all the attention. Were I-976 to be implemented, much of the funding that supports Amtrak Cascades and freight mobility would be repealed.

The loss of Cascades would be a particularly devastating blow… not just to Washington, but to the entire region. Cascades is the only rail service linking Seattle with Vancouver, British Columbia. It is supported by the people of the states of Washington and Oregon, and is a shining example of cross-Columbia cooperation.

Cascades has a northern route and a southern route, each of which terminate at Seattle’s King Street Station. Its southern route connects Seattle with Oregon’s two largest cities, Portland and Eugene, and many points in between, like Centralia in Lewis County, or Kelso/Longview in Cowlitz County.

Many of these cities are also served by Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route, but the Coast Starlight does not offer frequent service. Cascades is different. It offers multiple trips a day to and from Portland. And because its Talgo-built trains utilize technology that allows the cars to passively tilt into curves, Cascades can run at very high speeds between Olympia and Portland… faster, in fact, than vehicles on I-5 are legally permitted to travel.

For transit to be an attractive option for people who own cars, it must be reliable, frequent, and fast. Thanks to joint federal, state, and regional investments (like the Point Defiance Bypass), Cascades service has been improving on all of those fronts.

Implementation of Positive Train Control by Amtrak and its partners has also made Cascades safer following last year’s tragic derailment near Mounts Road.

But if I-976 goes into effect, Cascades would be gutted, reversing years of progress.

Also harmed under I-976 would be the dozens of cities that levy vehicle fees to pay for road resurfacing projects, traffic calming measures, and road maintenance, like Bainbridge Island and Zillah. Eyman’s I-976 repeals the authority of city-established transportation benefit districts to levy vehicle fees to meet their transportation needs.

Ferry districts would also lose their authority to levy vehicle fees.

NPI is preparing a fact sheet that explains the costs and consequences of I-976, which will be published tomorrow.

The teams at NPI and All Aboard Washington look forward to growing the NO on I-976 Coalition in the weeks and months ahead.

For additional information, please visit no976.org.

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