Opinion

Editorial for Oct. 22

Sinking a legislative-directed tax increase via initiative has become a yearly event. On this year’s ballot is Initiative 912 which would roll back the gas tax instituted by the Legislature last spring. Incrementally increasing to 9.5 cents a gallon by 2008, the plan is to raise $5.5 billion for safety and congestion improvement projects.

A yes vote would roll back the gas tax to its previous level, a reduction of 3 cents a gallon, and roll back the state’s transportation structure for years to come. That’s why we’re advising you to vote no on I-912.

Initiative 912 came in frustration of last year’s governor’s election tied to a huge increase in gas prices nationwide. Opponents say it won’t reduce congestion and too much is going toward replacing the Alaskan Way viaduct.

What local I-912 supporters refuse to look at is what’s at stake right here in our backyard.

Nascar fans might not like paying higher gas prices but the Legislature’s plan includes a nice piece to the Kitsap race track puzzle. Labeled a safety improvement, the plan calls for adding a passing lane and a two-way left turn lane on SR 3 south of Gorst from Imperial Way to Sunnyslope Road. It also would extend the existing southbound truck-climbing lane. The cost to do this plan is budgeted for $2.5 million and, according to a state Department of Transportation official, is expected to start in 2007. The other piece of the Nascar puzzle is a $15 million investment in restarting progress on the long-discussed Belfair Bypass, reducing travel time by taking traffic around instead of through the heart of Belfair.

Those in the tourism trade might not like a higher gas tax, but our direct link to the Olympic Peninsula, the Hood Canal Bridge, would get $162 million to replace the eastern half and complete its modernization. This is not only important to tourist traffic, but also the submarine traffic coming to and from Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. The loss of those funds would not only impact the final stage of replacements on the Hood Canal Bridge, but also the planned replacement of the increasingly dangerous Manette Bridge which the state has labeled a high risk in an earthquake.

Gas tax funds also are slated for expanding and modernizing the Bainbridge ferry terminal for $81.3 million and replacing the aging ferry MV Hyak for $66.4 million.

So for a small individual investment, we can actually get a sizable return that will keep us rolling for years to come.

Vote no on I-912.

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