Futurewise joins broad, diverse coalition to oppose Eyman's Initiative 1125
Business, labor, environmental and other community leaders are coming together again to defeat Tim Eyman’s latest initiative I-1125, which threatens vital transportation projects and economic growth across the state, including planned light rail projects like the voter approved I-90 rail project.
The group is joining under the banner of Keep Washington Rolling, a coalition of community leaders that successfully opposed I-912 in 2005. The group is reforming in response to an Eyman transportation initiative that is even worse than his last effort, I-985, which state voters trounced at the polls in 2008.
“I-1125 is a new attack on transportation and transit projects in Washington State.” said Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable. “That business, labor, environmentalists and community leaders from around the state are standing together to oppose this effort in a nearly unprecedented coalition speaks volumes about just how much harm I-1125 would do to our economy and quality of life in Washington State.”
“This initiative isn’t about solving a problem,” he added. “It’s funded by a small handful of people and will undermine our ability to make progress on our state’s pressing transportation challenges.”
Initiative 1125 has received the bulk of its contributions, over $1 million, from a single donor, Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman who wants to use I-1125 as a backdoor means to block the construction of light rail on I-90 across Lake Washington. Freeman recently lost a court challenge to the light rail expansion plan. According to Eyman, if I-1125 passes it would kill a 30 year plan, voter approved in 2008, to build light rail across Lake Washington on the I-90 floating bridge. “If light rail wants to go across the lake, they could still do it, but they’d have to build their own bridge. They couldn’t be on I-90,” he is quoted as saying in the Seattle Times this past weekend.
The initiative would prevent the Washington State Legislature from changing current law that allows tolls collected on one bridge or highway to be used for another — a provision which could kill the Evergreen Point floating bridge replacement project across Lake Washington. It also requires state politicians to approve any toll changes, and would abolish variable toll rates, like those already being successfully used for the SR 167 HOT Lanes (Renton, Kent, South King County) project which was instituted in 2008. Similarly, I-1125 will also jeopardize a project where variable pricing would be used to pay for Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement.
In addition, I-1125 threatens other transportation projects around the state including the Columbia River Crossing and the I-405 expansion.
“In these tough economic times we need to be creating jobs, not introducing policy that would eliminate jobs and threaten economic growth for our businesses, workers and our communities,” added Jeff Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council who noted that I-1125 would put both future and current projects that rely on bonds at risk, threatening thousands construction jobs statewide and discouraging businesses from locating or expanding in Washington State.
“Transportation is about getting from point A to Point B–where we live to where we work to where we play–and I-1125 would effectively kill Washington’s options for improving transportation.” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of the Transportation Choices Coalition. “It would be especially devastating for families that are worried about the rising price of gas and depend on buses, rail and other means to move around our region.”
Currently decisions like tolling prices are set by an independent, non-partisan commission, a standard practice around the country. As gas taxes continue to generate fewer and fewer dollars for transportation projects each year, many states have looked to tolling as a balanced way to provide more funding for vital projects. If I-1125 passes, Washington would be the only state to ban variable toll pricing and the only state to require the legislature, not transportation experts, to set pricing.
“The health of our communities and the health our economy rely on smart transportation planning.” says April Putney, Co-Director, Futurewise. “If I-1125 passes, it will have widespread implications, not just on our environment, but on our quality of life and our ability to do business”.
Learn more about the dangers of Initiative 1125 here: http://www.voteno1125.com