We all know that the City of Bellingham is considering doing away with parking in favor of bike lanes along portions of Northwest Avenue. Whenever I hear about projects I think dollar signs and that is pretty scary since much of the money for these Bellingham projects comes from sources other than the Bellingham. Sources like taxes you pay to the County, State and Federal government whether you live in Bellingham or not.
Yes, the same Federal Government that is running a deficit, is digging an even deeper hole funding do good projects in Bellingham and to be fair also in every other city, county, and state in our nation. Anyone driven through the new roundabout in Blaine? Well give it a whirl and as you’re going round and round about think about the $13.2 million that was added to the Federal Deficit. Oh, and if you go round more than once think about the other 119 roundabouts round our state that the WSDOT is so full of pride about. I’ve not investigated the cost and funding of every roundabout. However to better orient yourself to the magnitude of the issue, consider that $13.2 million x 120 = $1.6 billion which is a lot of added deficit so that we can drive round in circles.
Nickel & Diming is a simple and time proven concept and it is hard at work growing our national debt. Our nation’s debt isn’t from one big ticket item, it’s from millions of little projects. In Bellingham they have adopted a Six Year Transportation Improvement Project which from the looks of it is just a list of many of those millions of little Nickel & Dime projects.
Here’s the funding resources for Bellingham’s Transportation Improvement Project:
- City Street: Public Works Street Fund comprised of motor vehicle gas tax and 42.5% of
the total sales tax collected by the City of Bellingham.
- Real Estate Excise Tax (REET): Comprised of 1/2 of 1% of the total real estate revenue
for a given year. REET funding is divided into first ¼ and second ¼ and can be used for limited types of transportation projects.
- Federal: Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Authority, or U.S.
Department of Transportation administered grant funding programs.
- Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA): One-time federal
economic stimulus funding provided for transportation projects.
- Federal Highway Bridge Program (HBP): Provides federal funds for structural repair
or replacement. Project oversight at the State level by the Bridge Replacement Advisory Committee (BRAC).
- Federal Surface Transportation Program (STP): Provides federal funds to maintain
and expand eligible arterial street systems.
- Federal Surface Transportation Program Enhancements (STP-E): Provides federal
funds to enhance facilities for alternative transportation modes on eligible street systems.
- State: State administered grant funding programs or State educational institutions such as Western Washington University (WWU), Whatcom Community College (WCC), and Bellingham Technical College (BTC).
- WSDOT: Washington State Department of Transportation biennium budget – State
Funding administered through WSDOT.
- Washington Transportation Improvement Board (TIB): State grant funding for
arterials, sidewalks, and safety measures.
- Private & Other (Partnerships): Transportation Impact Fees, Whatcom County,
Whatcom Transportation Authority, private business investment, private mitigation, etc.
That’s eleven sources of funding. I got bored reading the word “Federal” over and over, but I think I found 1 or 2 that were Bellinghamish sources. The rest of the list shows the way that Bellingham transportation projects add more burden to our already broken state budget and pile on more and more to our nation’s deficit problem. It is scary how many of these projects are out there in cities around our nation just waiting for city officials to pull the trigger on some matching federal funds and push local overspending right up to our nations suffering bottom line.
As if this situation isn’t scary enough as it is repeated around our nation, it’s even scarier here in Bellingham because amongst the whoopla over whether or not to trade parking for bicycle lanes on Northwest Avenue, the Bellingham City Council is considering allowing Dan Pike’s personally appointed Transportation Commission the power to implement these changes in an unprecedented fashion.
The City Council on Monday, Dec. 13, will consider approving a resolution that:
- Asks staff to conduct a community meeting as soon as possible to discuss how to install the bike lanes.
- Asks staff to install them along the Northwest Avenue-Elm Street-Dupont Street corridor as soon as possible.
- Authorizes the advisory Transportation Commission to make decisions of this sort in the future, with the council having 45 days after the commission decision to reject or change it.
Really? They are going to allow an appointed Transportation Commission to implement programs like this without prior Council approval? Why exactly is there a Bellingham City Council again?
And there it was, the scariest thing about the Northwest Avenue Bike Lane Project is not the loss of parking, nor just the piling on of debt. The scariest thing is that we could be stuck with the bill when Mayor Dan Pike’s commission pulls the trigger on any of these Bellingham Projects.
Bellinghamsters are big on Buy Local, when are they going to start the Pay Local campaign?