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Saturday, October 15th, 2005: Page updated at 8:00 PM

Election 2005

Your guide to the gas-tax initiative

Last spring the state Legislature approved a 9.5-cent-a-gallon gas-tax increase, to be phased in over four years, to fund 274 state road projects. Initiative 912, on the ballot in November, would repeal the increase. A guide to understanding the gas tax and Initiative 912.

The purpose | The projects | The cost | The alternatives

The alternatives: Some of the state's options if I-912 passes

Pass another tax package: Some initiative backers say the Legislature can pass another tax package thatís more to the liking of voters. Democratic lawmakers disagree. They say many politicians arenít likely to support another tax increase if voters reject the one the Legislature just passed.

Put a new tax package on the ballot: Same answer. Many lawmakers also wouldnít put a tax package on the ballot if voters reject the one passed earlier this year.

Create transportation districts: Thereís growing discussion about keeping transportation tax dollars in the county that generates them. There could be efforts to do that in the Legislature or through a ballot measure. That could give some areas of the state, such as central Puget Sound, a lot more money for roads than other regions.

Charge tolls: Mark Hallenbeck, a transportation expert from the University of Washington, says tolls could work if you essentially turn Interstate 405 and Interstate 5, between Tacoma and Everett, into a turnpike system. That could generate enough money to take care of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other maintenance needs. But simply charging tolls on a structure you want to fix - such as the viaduct - wonít work, he said. Thatís because the tolls likely would be so high that drivers would avoid the structure and cause bigger traffic jams on toll-free roads.