Tunnel Head


Today over at Publicola:

Leaders in Olympia, including Governor Chris Gegoire and Senate Majority Caucus Leader Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), have both said that the proposed one percent MVET increase that was expected to raise $120 million for transit along the Viaduct corridor—and was supposedly a key element of the waterfront tunnel plan—is not part of the plan now at all.

Last week in the PI:

What’s apparently still keeping some of the advocacy groups onboard the tunnel plan is a proposal to let King County pass a one percent motor-vehicle excise tax, or $100 yearly on a $10,000 car.

“Our acceptance of the deal is completely dependent on the (excise tax) being part of the solution,” Rob Johnson, executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, said in an e-mail.


Meanwhile, the pragmatists have been chipping away at my anti-tunnel convictions.  A friend wrote this in an email today:

I love love love the idea of using the grid instead of a big heavy infrastructure solution.  Unfortunately I saw how SDOT and WSDOT planned to use the grid.  More vehicle lanes, removal of on-street parking, compromised green streets.  The story was turning grim–that’s why a small deep-bore is, in the end, a reasonable solution.

So yes, I agree: the tunnel makes sense, but only if one is willing to accept status-quo stupidity.  As in, a badly designed surface option.  And/or there’s no other way we could stop the Choppaduct.  And/or we’re so feeble-minded we could never find a way to repurpose the tunnel funds to something other than roads.  And/or etc.  If needed, stir in equal parts climate change denial and peak oil denial and you’re there.

7 Responses to “Tunnel Head”

  1. serial catowner

    What am I missing here? The Governor and a state Senator say a King County tax is not part of their plan.

    I understand that it may be necessary for the legislature to pass an enabling ordnance to allow King County to try to set up such a tax.

    Fact remains, a King County tax is a King County tax. The Governor and legislators have agendas to move at the state level. Depending on something King County may or may not do might be something Gregoire and Murray want to avoid right now.

  2. serial catowner

    The theme that emerges, with a little reading around, is that Gregoire and Murray don’t mean for the tunnel plan to be held hostage to King County’s ability to impose a MVET.

    Frankly, that sounds good to me- this bit where Jurisdiction X will do something if Jurisdiction Y does something that depends on Jurisdiction Z doing something- all of them different levels of government with different constituencies, naturally- well, it gets old.

    As do we all, waiting for something to happen.

  3. MVET question

    Does King County need or not need State legislative approval to raise MVET?*

    If it does, then it is a problem if it’s not in the State plan.

    *(I can’t keep track of MVET since that Horse’s Ass initiative… and why should I? I don’t have a car.)

  4. Deb Eddy

    King County would need state authority to raise the motor vehicle exise tax.

  5. Tony

    Local jurisdictions have no inherent taxing authority in Washington State. All taxing authority, legal authority, and the right right to exist in the first place must be explicitly authorized by Olympia.

    It’s the United STATES of America, not cities, counties, or metro areas. States are the fundamental political unit in this country, and States alone have the power to enact any legislation that does not violate the U.S. or their own constitutions.

    Cities and counties can be cut off, restricted, made and eliminated at will by States.

    Now, rarely does a State actually go so far as to eliminate an established jurisdiction, but States commonly restrict taxing authority or enact other mandates that the local governments must abide by. For example, the Growth Management Act.

    I do not however understand why, other than blind ambition, that Olympia does not give local jurisdictions much more freedom when it comes to taxation. The more Olympia restricts liberal Seattle’s ability to tax itself, the more liberal Seattle uses its influence to raise taxes on the whole state to fund liberal priorities, including transit.

  6. The Deep-Bore Tunnel Is A Done Deal (Just Like The Monorail Was) | hugeasscity

    […] the record, here’s why whiners like me and McGinn won’t shut up, and aren’t ready to concede that the tunnel is a done […]

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