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Coalition calls on Legislature for transportation funding to“Keep King County Moving”
Regional leaders from business, labor, education and grassroots organizations today called for action by state lawmakers on essential local and statewide transportation funding that is needed to “Keep King County Moving.”
At a news conference in Seattle’s Pioneer Square hosted by Dan Greenshields, the president of ShareBuilder by Capital One, leaders called out the critical need for a robust statewide transportation package, including a local option revenue tool, to address needed transit funding and roads maintenance needs in King County.
In January of this year, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and the Sound Cities Association representing 35 King County cities, including Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland, called on State Legislators to take immediate action on a transportation funding package that will preserve mobility and jobs throughout the county. As the Legislature heads into the second half of the session, the transportation coalition – expanded with business, civic, education and environmental stakeholders – again entreats lawmakers in Olympia to act.
“Half the payroll in this state is here in King County. To keep and grow those jobs we must be able to move people and goods – and that means saving Metro bus service and maintaining our roads and bridges,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Without the authority for local transportation funding, Washington will lose our hard-earned economic advantage.”
"Our regional economy is finally emerging from the recession. But our businesses and residents will suffer if we cannot continue transit service or maintain our roads and bridges,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “We need local revenue options so we can provide better transportation and continue supporting economic recovery in Washington State."
"Most people live in cities where local roads get us from home to work, school, businesses, health care and recreation; local roads link us to our communities." said Redmond Mayor John Marchione. "Investing now to maintain these roads will save us money in the long run, as it will only be more expensive in the future. To miss this opportunity will hurt our economic momentum and undermine the links that connect us to our communities.”
A balanced statewide transportation package would address both the repair and maintenance of critical roadways, and sustainable investment in transit. Cities and King County maintain more than 7,000 miles of roads and bridges yet have faced downturns in revenue over the last decade. As a result, significant backlogs threaten the safety and viability of these important thoroughfares.
“In order to provide for a vibrant economy our civic leaders are stepping up to address our growing transportation challenges head on,” said David Freiboth, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the M.L. King County Labor Council. “The Labor Council supports and will assist dynamic leadership committed to breaking the political gridlock and moving infrastructure projects forward.”
“We need to invest in transportation to keep our economy moving,” said Chamber President & CEO Maud Daudon. “Our goods need to get to the ports, our people need to get to their jobs, and we cannot afford to get any further behind in making these necessary investments – we need action by our legislators in 2013.”
King County Metro delivered transit access to more than 115 million riders last year, a number that is only expected to rise. As the region’s economy continues to grow out of the recession, transit plays an increasingly key part in connecting people with jobs.
Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Kate Joncas said, “one in five jobs in King County is in Downtown Seattle, and more people get to those jobs on transit than by any other means. The numbers are clear: reliable transit and well-maintained roads are critical to Downtown Seattle – and the region’s – economic competitiveness. Major employers want their employees to have access to effective transit and commuters through the region depend on reliable access to Downtown. If we can no longer provide that then we’re at a competitive disadvantage.”
“We’ve significantly reduced Metro’s labor, operating, and capital costs; raised fares several times; and made our transit system substantially more efficient and productive, but without additional revenue options, we cannot sustain our transit system. The people of King County will face gridlock and fewer, far more expensive options for getting to work. Sustaining funding for Metro Transit is critical to maintaining the strength of our regional and statewide economy” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee.
“Behind the need to invest in our transit system are real riders – real people - who will be hurt if efforts are unsuccessful,” said Josh Kavanagh, Director of Transportation at the University of Washington. “This includes the thousands of students in King County – 37 percent – who rely on the bus to get to school every day. These are our future workers, and the people who will be directly hurt by transportation cuts if solutions aren't found."
The transportation coalition to “Keep King County Moving” will continue to advocate for and work with state lawmakers as they consider several transportation revenue packages this year.