OLYMPIA – Puget Sound-area voters could get a chance to decide whether to raise taxes for projects to ease traffic congestion if a bill passed by the Senate today becomes law.
Senate Bill 6140 would create congestion relief districts, including the Central Puget Sound Congestion Relief District that would include King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
Because many of the projects needed to relieve the region’s traffic problems are simply too expensive to fit into the state’s normal transportation budget, finding a way to let local taxpayers solve the problem is one of the key issues for lawmakers this year.
“This is simply asking for the ability to raise taxes in our own area,” said Sen. Dan McDonald, R-Bellevue. “It is simply a method to get projects that are very difficult to build.”
District planning committees would choose projects – including new lanes, bus fly-over ramps, park-and-ride lots and bus pullouts – along with taxes to pay for them. Local voters would be asked to approve the projects and the money to pay for them through increased sales taxes, car tab taxes and fuel taxes.
Some Democrats tried unsuccessfully to broaden the bill to allow regions to attack congestion with transit systems such as ferries and commuter trains.
“It only allows for the laying of more concrete,” said Sen. Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, said of the bill. “Let’s not arrogantly dictate from Olympia and limit their options this way.”
Patterson’s amendment failed 16-29 before the bill passed 26-20. The measure now goes to the House.
Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.