Quality of life here: positives outweigh negatives three to one

People in the central Puget Sound region say the positives about the quality of life here outweigh the negatives: 75 percent to 25 percent.


Redmond Town Center (City of Redmond photo)

And just over half say their own community is headed in the right direction.

These were among the findings of a survey led by Forterra with the help of King County, Amazon and the PSRC.

People within King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap Counties were asked: “Thinking of all the positives and negative aspects about the quality of life in the region, what percentage of things do you thinking are positive? What percentage is negative?


People were also asked: “Do you feel things in your own community today are going in the right direction or headed on the wrong track?”

DirectionResidents of Snohomish County were least likely to believe things are headed in the right direction (45 % right direction), while those in Pierce County were most optimistic (58% right direction).

The survey was conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies to assess the values and priorities of the region’s residents as they relate to sustaining the region’s assets, better reflect the region’s values in planning and help improve communication.


Tacoma voters say YES to transportation – twice

Add Tacoma voters to the list of communities that approved transportation measures this year.


Tacoma voters approved two measures to repair and improve city streets. PSRC estimates that the region’s city streets will need over $4 billion in additional funding through 2025.

Yesterday the last votes were counted and Proposition 3 was ahead by 22 votes.

Last week it had come from behind to lead by six votes.

The election was certified just after noon today.

Prop. 3 will increase property and utility taxes to raise an estimated $13 million per year for street repairs and improvements.

Tacoma voters had also approved a sales tax increase to raise another $4.5 million annually for city streets.

The News Tribune reports they are the “first dedicated road improvement money to win approval from Tacoma voters since 1968.”

Earlier this year the PSRC reported that the region’s cities and towns were short $4.3 billion from what would be required to keep streets in good condition over the next ten years.

Tacoma isn’t the only city working to close the gap – Seattle and Enumclaw handily passed transportation measures this month.

There are now 37 jurisdictions in the region helping to keep their streets in shape with a Transportation Benefit District.

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Region’s residents tend to be more upbeat

People in the central Puget Sound region are more positive about the quality of their lives than the national average.


50 percent of the people in the region say their quality of life is improving. 13 percent say it’s declining.

And half of us expect our quality of life will improve over the next five years – also beating the national average.

These were among the findings of a survey led by Forterra with the help of King County, Amazon and the PSRC.

When asked to rate their personal life on a scale of one to ten, the region’s residents had a mean rating of 7.2.

The U.S. mean rating is 6.1.

And when it comes to the next five years, people in the region rate their future at 7.8, while the rest of the country weighs in at 6.8.


Thinking about the overall quality of your life here in this region…..on a scale of 1 to 10, on which step of the ladder do you personally stand at the present time? And, say about five years from now?

The survey was conducted by Heart and Mind Strategies, which has done similar work across the country.

Heart and Mind said the region’s scores were among the highest they’ve seen and were similar to two sunnier places: Orlando and San Diego.

Fifty percent of the region’s residents see the quality of the lives improving over the next five years, 38 percent see things staying the same and 13 percent see things declining.

National surveys have shown that 44 percent see things improving and 56 percent see things declining.


74% of projects on time

“Ready to go” has always been a key consideration for projects competing for federal funds at the PSRC.


New project tracking rules have increased on time projects from 13% to 74%.

Will a project be ready to use federal funds a few years out, when those funds become available?

The answer is increasingly: Yes.

With 2003 policies, just 13 percent of projects awarded federal highway funds wound up delivering as expected.

In 2014, 74 percent met the deadline.

Credit for the big spike in on time projects goes to strict deadlines in new project tracking policies, active management and greater awareness that the region can lose federal funds if projects don’t deliver.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” observed Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, who chairs the PSRC’s Transportation Policy Board.  “Getting this federal funding spent and put on the ground for use by the travelling public…that’s what we are all about.”

Predicting the timing of funding to be assembled from a variety of different sources is challenging, especially for smaller jurisdictions.

Projects now risk losing funds if they don’t deliver as planned.

Projects in Tacoma and Kent are now facing that possibility.

But last week the Transportation Policy Board recommended that projects in both cities keep their PSRC funding.

You can watch that extended discussion on whether to grant exceptions here.

The final call on both projects is expected from the PSRC Executive Board on December 3rd.


Peter Rogoff poised to lead Sound Transit

Sound Transit’s Board will consider naming a new CEO tomorrow: Peter M. Rogoff, Under Secretary for Transportation Policy at the USDOT.


Then FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff with Washington Senator Patty Murray in 2011 celebrating the dedication of the tunnel boring machine for the light rail University LINK extension.

“In a competitive field of applicants, Peter Rogoff is the committee’s clear and unanimous recommendation to lead our region in meeting the growing demand for rail and bus service,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

There’s more on Sound Transit’s process and Rogoff’s background in a news release from Sound Transit.

His appointment will be considered at the end of the Sound Transit Board meeting tomorrow, which is scheduled from 1:30 until 4 p.m.

As Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Rogoff provides leadership in the development of policies for the department, generating proposals and guidance regarding legislative, regulatory and safety initiatives. His work spans all transportation modes, including aviation, highway, rail, transit and maritime transportation.

As the nation’s chief public transit official, Rogoff negotiated and signed a record number of full funding grant agreements with transit agencies across the nation to expand rail and bus rapid transit infrastructure.

Rogoff may be best known to the region’s transportation professionals and elected leadership through his work staffing the U.S. Senate’s Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

When Washington Senator Patty Murray chaired the subcommittee, Rogoff was her key staff member on it, giving him much experience with people within the region and the transportation needs of central Puget Sound and the state of Washington.

Sound Transit’s current CEO, the beloved Joni Earl, is stepping down in March, when Sound Transit expects to deliver a key milestone: light rail service connecting downtown Seattle with the University of Washington.



Move Seattle to be discussed November 19

Have questions about Seattle’s new transportation levy? PSRC is hosting a public panel discussion on Move Seattle over the lunch hour on November 19.

Seattle's new transportation levy, Move Seattle, will be discussed by a panel at a lunchtime discussion at PSRC.

Seattle’s new transportation levy, Move Seattle, will be discussed by a panel at a lunchtime discussion at PSRC.

Join Seattle Department of Transportation personnel to discuss specific projects in the package, how they will support the city’s multimodal concurrency efforts, and how the city will work with regional agencies and other partners on implementation.

Speakers: Craig Helmann, Puget Sound Regional Council; Kevin O’Neill and Jude Willcher, City of Seattle Department of Transportation.

Thursday, November 19 from 12:30-2:00 at PSRC, 1011 Western Avenue, Suite 500, Seattle, 98104.

 Or attend via webinar: At www.bluejeans.com, click “Join Meeting” and enter ID 117853983. If your computer has a microphone, you may participate in the webinar through your computer. If no microphone, you may call in at +1 888 240 2560, and enter Meeting ID. AICP CM unavailable by webinar.

New transportation deadline for Congress: December 4

With negotiations set to formally begin tomorrow, Congress took steps today to extend federal transportation programs until December 4.


The TIGER grant program has not been funded or authorized in legislation moving through Congress. The Obama Administration is advocating that TIGER  continue.

The deadline has been November 20th.

The move is intended to provide enough time to process six-year policy and budget legislation – and iron out remaining difference between the House, Senate and the White House.

Despite a wide range of policy differences large and small, leaders in both the House and Senate are anticipating final action before Congress goes home for the year.

A couple of differences include:

TIGER grants

Both the House and Senate end funding for the TIGER grant programwhich is supported by the Administration.

Transportation Alternatives

The Senate sends 100 percent of the Transportation Alternatives Program to places like the PSRC for project selection – the House keeps the current 50/50 split.

Within the central Puget Sound region, over 375 projects and programs are already counting on $1.6 billion in federal funds over the next three years.

Both the House and Senate include several non-transportation measures, including a four year reauthorization of the Import-Export bank.