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5/17/2007



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Washington state to streamline transportation ballot measure



The state of Washington’s making it easier for Puget Sound residents to decide whether to raise taxes to improve public transit and highways. Gov. Chris Gregoire recently signed into law legislation that streamlines a $17.6 billion “Roads & Transit” measure that will be placed on the November ballot.

The measure calls for raising sales taxes 0.6 percent and car tab taxes 0.8 percent to build 50 additional miles of light rail, improve commuter-rail facilities, make highway improvements and upgrade earthquake-vulnerable bridges.

Under the previous ballot framework, Sound Transit and the Regional Transit Investment District (RTID) — which developed the “roads” portion of the measure — projects would have been voted on separately, but both packages would have needed to pass for either to take effect. The legislation simplifies the measure to present central Puget Sound voters a single question on whether or not they want to approve the roads and transit program.

Votes will be counted once within the Sound Transit district and once within the RTID, which extends further north into Snohomish County. The measure will take effect if it passes in both districts, though the area the falls outside the Sound Transit district will only pay for road projects.



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