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Thursday, September 27, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sims to vote "no" on "Roads & Transit" measure

Seattle Times transportation reporter

King County Executive Ron Sims, who has been one of the region's most vocal backers of mass transit, has come out strongly against the Proposition 1 ballot measure, even though it includes 50 miles of Sound Transit rail extensions.

Rail ridership from Seattle to downtown Bellevue and Overlake would be "lackluster," he writes in a Seattle Times op-ed piece published this morning. And he says a proposed line through Federal Way to Tacoma would duplicate express-bus service that is being added by King County Metro Transit. The plan's long 20-year construction period and an absence of highway tolls to try to reduce congestion make the plan inadequate, Sims writes.

"While containing some good projects, this plan doesn't solve traffic congestion in the short term, nor does it provide enough long-term relief to justify the financial and environmental costs," Sims writes. "Tragically, this plan continues the national policy of ignoring our impacts upon global warming. In a region known for our leadership efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, this plan will actually boost harmful carbon emissions. In its entirety, I regrettably conclude that costs exceed benefits."

Last week, Sims told news reporters he would not take a position on Proposition 1. His spokeswoman, Carolyn Duncan, said he has now decided to speak out.

Sims has been on the Sound Transit governing board while the package was designed, and now he is criticizing it. "I don't recall him ever casting a 'no' vote," said transit-board Chairman John Ladenburg. Voters are unlikely to be swayed by Sims' move, said Ladenburg. "I'm not a big believer in endorsements."

Proposition 1, on the ballot in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, would be funded through increased sales and car-tab taxes. Construction and trains are estimated at $18 billion in 2006 dollars, and the package totals $38 billion including inflation, overhead and operations over the two decades of construction, and $47 billion if long-term debt payments are added.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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