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Bellevue chamber opposing Prop 1
The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce has come out in opposition to King County Proposition No. 1 ahead of Wednesday's mailing of the April 22 special election ballots, favoring instead that Washington lawmakers pass a statewide transportation funding package.
The Washington Legislature passed a supplemental budget before adjourning its session March 13, but left key issues like education, marijuana reform and a transportation package unresolved. The package was anticipated to fund Eastside projects that included completion of the new SR-520 floating bridge – without tolling the I-90 bridge – an SR-167/I-405 interchange project and adding HOT Lanes on I-405 from Bellevue to Renton.
A transportation benefit district created by the King County Council is expected to fill a $75 million funding gap for public transportation, and Prop 1 is the funding measure voters will decide during this month's special election. The measure includes a $60 car-tab fee, a one-tenth of a cent sales tax and a low-income fare of $1.25.
Chamber board members voted Monday to oppose Prop 1, stating in a news release that transit service in Bellevue will not be improved by approving the proposed tax. The chamber also is concerned the local funding measure for public transit will take the issue off the table in Olympia when lawmakers address a transportation package again, likely in January.
“Bus transit is an important element of Bellevue’s transportation system, but the costs of the proposed tax increase to Bellevue’s residents and businesses far outweigh the benefits provided by Prop. 1” said Tom Sulewski, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce board chair, in a prepared statement. “Bellevue, Metro, and the region need to continue to work together to ensure the Legislature passes a statewide transportation package that addresses all of our transportation needs, not just those of King County Metro.”
Alleviating congestion on I-405 and completion of the 520 bridge remain high priorities for the chamber to keep the Eastside's economy vibrant and competitive, which can only be accomplished through a statewide transportation plan.
"The proposed Proposition 1 tax increase does not expand bus service or construct additional park-and-ride facilities in Seattle or on the Eastside," states the chamber news release. "Further, the vote jeopardizes the passage of a state transportation plan that is vital to the future of our region. The Bellevue Chamber therefore urges King County voters to vote no on Proposition 1 and instead choose to move our community forward by supporting a collaborative and multi-modal state transportation plan.
Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci released this statement last month, following the adjournment of this year's legislative session.
“Every day, the people of Bellevue and our region are spending an unacceptable amount of their time stuck in traffic. Critical safety repairs and upgrades to roads and bridges are delayed or ignored. The bus service people rely on is facing dramatic cuts at a time when the high level of demand is causing standing-room crowds on many routes. Our council, neighborhoods and businesses know that transportation solutions are absolutely necessary to the continued quality of life and economic health of our city.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Legislature, despite heroic efforts by individual legislators, such as 41st District Rep. Judy Clibborn, has been unable or unwilling to provide the leadership we need to keep our city and region moving. It is no surprise that we now see local governments looking to find ways to fund our own transportation solutions. An example is King County’s effort to stave off dramatic cuts to bus service scheduled to take effect this summer by asking voters in April to fund a Transportation Benefit District.”