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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 28th, 2019

I-976 proponent Dori Monson is at it again with his absurd, silly conspiracy theories

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman has no greater friend right now than Dori Monson of KIRO FM, who enthusiastically backs Eyman’s efforts to take a sledgehammer to essential public services that he doesn’t believe in, like the high capacity transit services Sound Transit designs and deploys with voter approval.

Eyman’s I-976, which is currently being voted upon by Washington voters, would repeal billions in bipartisan, voter-authorized transportation investments at the state, regional, and local levels. Dori thinks that’s a great thing, and he has arguably been even more exuberant than Eyman has in exhorting people to vote yes on Eyman’s incredibly irresponsible, shortsighted measure.

Having attacked Sound Transit so often and for so long, Dori was evidently in want of some fresh material for another pro-I-976 rant for today’s show.

So he decided to baselessly claim that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) deliberately closed a lane on the Aurora Avenue Bridge, which carries SR 99 over the Ship Canal, to benefit the NO on I-976 campaign.

Said Dori:

Does anybody — and I mean anybody — believe that the sudden Aurora Bridge repairs are a coincidence?

We got word Sunday night from the Washington State Department of Transportation that they have to close a lane on the Aurora Bridge because of problems with the steel supports holding up the bridge.

What a coinkidink! It comes just one week before you have to get your ballots in, on which the most hotly-contested issue is, of course, the initiative for $30 car tabs, I-976. And bridges have been at the center of the “no on 976” campaign.

Dori, I have a hard time believing that you actually believe this nonsense yourself. I imagine you’re just trying to rile people up, as that is how you get ratings.

But in the off chance you do believe what you’re saying, then I have a proposition for you. I happen to own a very nice, six lane bridge that spans the Ship Canal in Seattle. It’s a crucial facility that the city can’t do without, and it’s a fantastic investment that will yield an excellent return. It even has its own resident troll that you could use for toll collection purposes. I’m looking for a new owner who can pay upfront quickly. Wanna make a deal and buy a bridge from me?

Snark aside, it is WSDOT’s job to inspect, retrofit, and repair state-owned bridges on a year-round basis. WSDOT is responsible for 3,932 bridge structures, and two hundred and eighty of its bridges are eighty years old or older. WSDOT’s latest periodic report states that is a six percent increase over last year’s tally of eighty-year old bridges, and represents 7% of the agency’s bridges.

WSDOT isn’t working on the Aurora Avenue Bridge in order to help the NO on I-976 campaign; it’s working on the bridge to keep the public safe.

Anyone with a brain and the ability to think critically should be able to intuitively understand this. Anyone with a working moral compass should be able to refrain from using their platform to circulate misinformation to the public.

WSDOT’s communications staff patiently explained this to Dori, but he still chose to peddle his baseless, absurd, irresponsible conspiracy theory on-air.

Bart Treece, communications manager for WSDOT’s Northwest Region, told me that the bridge repairs had nothing to do with 976, and were the result of a routine inspection that occurs every other autumn.

“Safety is our first priority … we have a responsibility, when we see something that needs to be addressed, to take immediate action,” he said. He said that the second inspection was done over the weekend rather than on a weekday so as not to disrupt commuters.

They chose not to do any of this over the summer, when there already were lane closures on the bridge because it was apparently too much at one time. The outside southbound lane was the most important to close because that portion of the bridge is not “handling the weight that it should,” according to Treece.

“By closing that one lane, we can keep traffic moving and still reduce the strain until that portion is repaired,” he explained.

It should also be noted that WSDOT currently has projects underway to repaint the Aurora Avenue Bridge and repave State Route 99 in Seattle from Roy Street to North 145th (that stretch of the highway was last resurfaced in 1999). These projects are funded by gas tax revenue, WSDOT’s Tom Pearce says.

Twelve years ago at this time, Washington was in the midst of a battle royale over whether to sustain or repeal a gas tax increase passed by the Legislature to fund highway improvements. The Keep Washington Rolling coalition, which is currently working to defeat I-976, ultimately prevailed after waging a groundbreaking campaign, handily defeating Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson’s I-912.

I was involved in that campaign, and remember it well. I especially remember Tim Eyman confidently declaring that I-912 was guaranteed to pass.

Whoops. 🙂

What made the difference in the fight against I-912 was that Keep Washington Rolling committed itself to waging a truly statewide campaign that was not confined to King County. The coalition appealed to voters in every corner of the state to protect Washington’s future by rejecting I-912.

And voters responded.

The coalition secured a victory in a third of the state’s thirty-nine counties, including Spokane, Clark, Pierce, Snohomish, and even Walla Walla.

Keep Washington Rolling will need to pull off a similar feat this year to bring I-976 down. This campaign isn’t going to be decided by Seattle/King County, where the Aurora Avenue Bridge is located. It will be decided in communities like Lynnwood, Spokane, Puyallup, Mount Vernon, Camano Island, and Bremerton.

We have about one week left to make our case against I-976 before the election wraps up. If you have not yet checked out our I-976 Impact Map, then we urge you to do so now. Click or tap the button with the arrows belong to enter fullscreen mode and see for yourself examples of projects that could be hurt by the implementation of Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-976.

Initiative 976 Impact Map

Vote NO on I-976 by November 5th, 2019.

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