Opinion

Yes on Prop#1 for transit and roads

Voting YES on the Transportation Benefit District ballot measure is critical to preserving bus service, maintaining and improving Mercer Island roads and trails and avoiding worse traffic congestion.

What is the cost/where will it go? The measure adds a $60 annual car fee and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase (from 9.5 to 9.6 percent).  Since an existing $20 fee will lapse, the net increase is $40. Sixty percent of the revenue will pay for bus service and county roads with the balance distributed to cities.  Mercer Island will receive $600,000 annually to fund roads and trails.

What Island buses would be affected?

If this measure loses, we could lose four existing bus routes (201, 203, 205 and 213), see cuts in 204 service and possibly face reductions in 550 service.

How important are buses?

Buses are used daily by thousands of people who work in our communities, offices and stores, by Islanders who go to events, shop or get services off Island, by children attending Island schools, and by many who cannot drive.  Estimates are that rejection of the measure means 30,000 more cars on our streets causing more congestion on I-90 and elsewhere.

What if the State eventually passes a transportation package?

The measure authorizes rescission of the new revenues if a State package that meets county needs passes.

Will This measure affect I-90 tolling?

Absolutely not.

The Legislature must pass a revenue measure to fund the completion of the SR-520 Bridge plus billions of dollars for other State highways.   Even tolling would require legislative action.  Everything we hear from Olympia is that I-90 tolling is off the table.

Why Not Raise Bus Fares?

Fares will continue to increase but raising them too much reduces bus ridership causing even greater operating losses and congestion as people instead use cars.

Does Mercer Island need more money?

We have managed to make ends meet aided in large part by low recession construction costs and spending less year after year after adjusting for inflation.  Costs are headed up at the same time that we face significant projects on the Mercers, Island Crest Way and in connection with school construction.   Islanders also want safer bicycle and pedestrian trails and neighborhood traffic calming projects.  Without this measure, we expect that Mercer Island will implement its own $20 car tab fee starting in 2015 as there will be insufficient monies to meet the expectations of Islanders.

We thank you for supporting this measure.

 

 

Bruce Bassett and Dan Grausz

Mayor and Deputy Mayor

of the City of Mercer Island

 

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