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Originally published November 1, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 1, 2007 at 2:00 AM

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No on Proposition 1: wrong plan, wrong tax

This page has already stated its opposition to Proposition 1, the roads-and-transit package that would raise the sales tax to about 9. 5 percent in the...

This page has already stated its opposition to Proposition 1, the roads-and-transit package that would raise the sales tax to about 9.5 percent in the three-county Sound Transit district. We state that opposition again, and add further reasons.

We do not object to the road improvements in Proposition 1, such as the widening of Interstate 405 between Renton and Bellevue, the widening of Highways 9 and 522 in Snohomish County, Highway 167 in South King County or Highway 704 in Pierce County. But financially, Proposition 1 is mostly a light-rail vote. That is where five-tenths of the six-tenths of a cent of new sales tax goes. This page objected to the first light-rail line because it would cost so much and do so little. Even if people ride it, it is only one line, Sea-Tac Airport to downtown Seattle, and it will soak up money that could be used to better effect all over the region.

The region could have buses with dedicated lanes and more-frequent service, van pools, bike lanes, flex hours, congestion pricing, traffic-signal alignment and, here and there, more road lanes. This is our first and best reason for opposing Proposition 1: It is wasteful.

Our second reason is that it buys more light rail with a half-cent addition to the sales tax, and the sales tax is the wrong tax. A tax for transit improvements should be tied to use of the road. Since the 1920s, we have funded roads with a gasoline tax. We undertook to fund the ill-fated Seattle Monorail Project with a car-tabs tax. That made some sense, even if the monorail did not. It makes no sense to fund light rail with a sales-tax increase.

And further, at 9.5 percent, and 10 percent at restaurants, the sales tax would be getting very high. A tax that high is not good for retail business or the consumer, and particularly not good for people with low income.

Our third reason for opposing Proposition 1 is that so much of the light-rail investment goes to places that even the supporters of light rail privately agree make no sense. That includes the segment from Sea-Tac Airport to Tacoma, and from Northgate more than halfway to Everett.

The proposed line to the Eastside has a different problem: It takes up two center lanes on the Interstate 90 Floating Bridge. Those lanes could carry more people in buses, because buses can drive a few lengths apart, whereas trains have to have several-minute "headways."

Rail on I-90 would leave two lanes empty most of the time, even at rush hour. And, that means light rail will reduce the capacity of the bridge, particularly to people from Sammamish and Issaquah, since the light rail wouldn't go there.

All good reasons to vote "no."

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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