Monthly Archives: November 2012

Counties, cities getting short end of transportation stick

Cities and counties didn’t make out well in the past two gas tax increases. Next time, they need to restore their share, Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown said during last week’s Kitsap Transit board meeting.
Counties used to receive 22 percent of gas taxes, which were 23 cents a gallon. They only got 5 percent of the 5-cent increase in 2003 and the 9.5-cent hike in 2005, dropping their overall percentage from 22 to 13.
The 5-cent increase paid for 130 projects and the 9.5-cent for 257 projects.
“There were big projects needed,” Brown said. “Those times have changed.” Counties and cities struggle just to keep up with maintenance, he said. Statewide, counties need $100 million to 150 million for their roads. If another 9 cents was added to the gas tax, counties would need 2 cents.
“Counties and cities need to send a strong message to get back to those historical splits,” Brown said.
He also said transit agencies need to be a bigger part of the next transportation package, though they constitutionally can’t receive gas taxes.
“We never recovered from MVET,” he said. “That funding has never been replaced. A long time ago funding for ferries went away and it’s never been replaced. It’s the same thing for transit agencies.
“Ignoring local transportation needs isn’t acceptable. We need to send a clear voice that if they’re only going to be supporting highways, we’re not going to support that anymore.”
Brown said the past two gas tax increases were set up somewhat to allow legislators to take credit for delivering a project to the home folks.
“I think the voters get that,” Brown said. “Paving the roads and operating buses should be the priorities. You can’t build a new kitchen if your roof is leaking.”

Port Townsend gives up on passenger ferry idea

Port of Port Townsend commissioners abandoned their plan last week to run a passenger-only ferry between Port Townsend and Seattle. Though they got a $1.3 million federal grant to buy a boat, they would’ve needed to pay for operations. As everybody before them has found out, you can’t make a profit. The $1.3 million will be given back to the feds. For more, see old pal Charlie Bermant’s story.

New ferries will be Tokitae, Samish

The two new 144-car ferries now under construction are being named Tokitae and Samish. The Washington State Transportation Commission today selected the names from seven proposals submitted in September. The other proposed names were Cowlitz, Hoquiam, Muckleshoot, Sammamish and Ivar Haglund.
Each of the seven proposals met commission guidelines for naming ferries. The commission then solicited input from Washington State Ferries, the ferry advisory committee executive council, and through an online survey sent to members of the Ferry Riders Opinion Group and the Voice of Washington State survey panels. More than 4,000 people responded to the survey.
Of the 23 vessels  operating in Puget Sound, almost all have names reflecting the state’s tribal heritage. The names of the two new Olympic Class vessels, along with the new 64-car ferries, are in keeping with that tradition.
Tokitae will be the first new 144-car ferry. This Coast Salish greeting means, “nice day, pretty colors” and also is the name given to an orca whale captured at Penn Cove, near Keystone, in 1970. Tokitae was brought to a marine park in Miami 40 years ago, where she was put into service as an entertainer, and re-named Lolita. She is the last survivor of the 45 Southern Resident Orcas captured in Washington state during the capture era of the 1960s and 70s. Such captures were banned in Washington state waters in 1976.
The second 144-car ferry will be named Samish. The meaning of the name is the “giving people” in proto-Salish origins. The Samish Indian Nation has held a deep-rooted respect for the traditions of sharing with its neighbors. The tribe’s historic area ranges from the mountaintops of the Cascades westerly along the hills, woodlands, and river deltas, arriving at the far western shores of the San Juan Island. The tribe’s historic lands have been inhabited for thousands of years by the ancestors of the Samish and their Coast Salish neighbors.

The class of ferry — Olympic — was chosen earlier by the Department of Transportation from 130 submissions.