Washington Traffic Congestion Proposal, Initiative 985 (2008)
The Washington Traffic Congestion Initiative, also known as Initiative 985 was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People, where it was defeated. The measure would have opened high-occupancy vehicle lanes to all traffic during specified hours, required traffic light synchronization, increased roadside assistance funding, and dedicated certain revenues to traffic-flow purposes.
|Washington Initiative 985 (2008)|
Election results via: Washington Secretary of State
Text of measure
The language appeared on the ballot as:
|“||Initiative Measure No. 985 concerns transportation.
This measure would open high-occupancy vehicle lanes to all traffic during specified hours, require traffic light synchronization, increase roadside assistance funding, and dedicate certain taxes, fines, tolls and other revenues to traffic-flow purposes.
Should this measure be enacted into law?
Yes [ ] No [ ]
A fiscal impact statement was included in the 2008 Voters' Guide. The fiscal impacts of Initiative 985 are described as follows:
|“||Over five years, approximately $622.6 million would be redirected from projects and activities supported by state and local general and transportation funds to congestion relief activities. This would include $224.2 million for opening carpool lanes to general traffic during off-peak hours, $65.7 million for synchronizing traffic lights, $18 million for additional emergency relief and $1.4 million for the State Auditor to monitor performance. The remaining $312.9 million would be available for other congestion relief activities, including expanding road capacity. Funds would not be allowed for bike paths, landscaping, wildlife crossings, park and ride lots, ferries, trolleys, buses or rail.||”|
"Voters Want More Choices," headed by Tim Eyman, Jack Fagan, and Mike Fagan, spearheaded the campaign in favor of Initiative 985. Republican Candidate for Governor of Washington in 2008, Dino Rossi, endorsed the initiative.
The following reasons were given in support of Initiative 985 in the Washington 2008 Voters' Guide:
|“||I-985 IMPLEMENTS COMMON SENSE REFORMS BASED ON RECOMMENDATIONS FROM STATE AUDITOR BRIAN SONNTAG’S THOROUGH INVESTIGATION
Requiring local governments to synchronize traffic lights on heavily-traveled arterials and streets – this single reform reduces traffic congestion 6-7%. Clearing out accidents faster – absolutely. Opening carpool lanes to everyone during non-peak hours – it’s what other states do and illustrates that increased capacity reduces congestion. But politicians arrogantly refuse to implement ANY of Auditor Sonntag’s recommendations.
STATE AUDITOR BRIAN SONNTAG’S 2007 REPORT: “CITIZENS HAVE IDENTIFIED CONGESTION AS A PRIORITY, AND THEREFORE … … SO MUST THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND THE LEGISLATURE.
Democrat Sonntag’s performance audit on transportation reported 80% of citizens wanted “reducing traffic congestion” to be the top transportation priority. Taxpayers pay billions in taxes and fees every year – they expect their money to strongly support the people’s top transportation priority: reducing the time it takes to drive our vehicles from point A to point B. Sonntag’s audit and I-985 advocate getting better use from existing streets and highways while also addressing chokepoints with increased capacity to significantly reduce travel times for everyone. Approving I-985 tells politicians that voters want this approach.
I-985 DEDICATES EXISTING TRANSPORTATION-RELATED REVENUES THAT ARE CURRENTLY BEING DIVERTED TO NON-TRANSPORTATION SPENDING.
I-985 DOESN’T RAISE TAXES, instead it dedicates red light camera profits, a small portion of vehicle sales taxes, and “1/2% for reducing congestion” for any transportation-related project (removes “1/2% for public art”) to reducing congestion. I-985 guarantees that tolls won’t be diverted to non-transportation spending, dedicating it instead to its project. And I-985 empowers Auditor Sonntag to track revenues and expenditures, helping implement I-985’s reforms and reporting regularly to the public on its progress.
WASHINGTON’S THE 5TH HIGHEST TAXED STATE IN THE NATION – I-985 KEEPS US FROM HITTING #1
Taxpayers are tapped out. I-985 tells politicians to prioritize, spending what we already pay more effectively. Vote Yes.
For more information, visit www.ReduceCongestion.org or call (425) 493-8707.
The arguments in favor of Initiative 985 were prepared by:
- Erma Turner, beauty shop owner, gathered 3,288 signatures, Cle Elum
- Steven Bencze, retired warehouseman, fisherman/hunter, gathered 2,567 signatures, Othello
- Eric Phillips, hiker, label company owner, gathered 2,255 signatures, Everett
- Karen Curry, housewife, husband Lee (plumber), gathered 1,789 signatures, Yakima
- Andre Garin, retired postal worker, bowler, gathered 1,469 signatures, Vancouver
- Mike Dunmore, husband, community leader, retired businessman, initiative volunteer, Woodinville.
- Michael and Phyllis Dunmire: $285,000
- Tim Eyman: $175,000
- Voters Want More Choices: $43,890
- Sam Adams Alliance: $30,000
- Kemper Holdings LLC: $25,000
Eyman mortgaged his home in April 2008 to loan $250,000 to the campaign to cover the expenses of collecting and procession signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
Opponents of Initiative 985 included a coalition of businesses, civic groups and leaders, including the League of Women Voters, the Association of Washington Businesses, the Washington PTA, the Sierra Club, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the Washington Research Council, and the Washington Association of Cities. Governor Christine Gregoire opposed the initiative.
The following reasons were given in opposition to Initiative 985 in the Washington 2008 Voters' Guide:
|“||VOTE NO ON I-985 BECAUSE IT TAKES AWAY MONEY FROM THINGS WASHINGTON RESIDENTS BADLY NEED.
I-985 is really about shortchanging local communities and working families, not relieving congestion. I-985 siphons more than $600 million in sales taxes over 5 years, from taxpayers all across the state, to pay for a handful of mostly Seattle-area highways. Paying for I-985 will either require new taxes, or cuts in schools, criminal justice, and other priorities. The state is already facing a budget deficit. I-985 makes a bad situation worse. Bad idea. Vote no.
I-985 INCREASES THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS IN EVERY PART OF THE STATE.
I-985 takes half a percent of state money from transportation projects everywhere in Washington for a special fund that won’t benefit local traffic. Local communities will have to pay more to make up the difference. People from the four corners of the state shouldn’t pay more for road projects only where congestion is worse. Unfair. Vote No.
SOUND BITES DON’T FIX TRAFFIC: INDEPENDENT TRAFFIC ENGINEERS THINK THAT I-985 COULD MAKE CONGESTION WORSE.
I-985 orders big changes that haven’t been thought through or tested. For example: it would open up city bus-only lanes to cars. That would complicate traffic and make bus trips slower. Worse, I-985 could create new crash hazards. Left-hand freeway ramps designed only for high occupancy vehicles would be open to more traffic, risking unexpected backups, accidents, and even ramp closures to preserve safety. Don’t make traffic worse. Vote no.
I-985 DOESN’T TELL YOU EXACTLY HOW AND WHERE CONGESTION FUNDS WILL BE SPENT.
I-985 creates a new pot of money, but doesn’t say specifically how it will be used. Initiatives shouldn’t be vague on what will be done with your money. Demand accountability. Vote no.
For more information, visit www.NoOn985.com or call (877) 871-8051.
The arguments against Initiative 985 were prepared by:
- John Stanton, businessman and civic leader on transportation reform
- Carol Moser, State Transportation Commission, Richland
- Doug MacDonald, former Secretary, Washington State Department of Transportation
- Cary Bozeman, Mayor, City of Bremerton, former Mayor, Bellevue
- Mike O’Brien, Chair, Sierra Club Cascade Chapter
- Denis Hayes, environmental leader and co-founder of Earth Day.
Opponents of the initiative spent $249,085 on the campaign.
Media editorial positions
- The Olympian said, "Comprehensive solutions to the congestion problem must be found. ... This initiative is about legislative inaction. Every ignored performance audit is a potential initiative."
- The Stranger said, Eyman claims his initiative would "reduce congestion;" as evidence, he cites his own irritation driving (alone) from Seattle to Renton and seeing an empty carpool lane. We say it won't do much except line Eyman's pockets—while robbing Washington State citizens of funding for critical needs when we need them the most."
- The Seattle Post Intelligencer said, "But I-985 is not harmless political hype. It's a dangerous object aimed at safety, state finances and the ability to cope with a budget crisis."
- The Daily said, "I-985 is a waste of precious money that should be spent on real traffic solutions."Cite error: Closing
- Office of the Secretary of State, "2008 Voters Pamphlet," accessed September 5, 2013
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- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- KNDO-TV News, "Gregoire opposes Eyman initiative, Rossi for," October 9, 2008
- Follow The Money on I-895
- Donors to I-985
- theNewspaper.com, "Washington: Anti-Congestion Referendum Gathers Momentum," June 19, 2008
- The Olympian, The Olympian supports I-985 ," November 2, 2008
- The Stranger, "The Stranger Election Control Board Endorsements," October 18, 2007
- Seattle Post Intelligencer', "P-I Endorsement: No way on I-985," October 11, 2008
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