Contractors are not the only builders. Chambers of Commerce around the US and the globe are historically true builders as well. These business organizations help build community, recruit new company relocations, advocate for new infrastructure, educational facilities, and sports facilities. All of those facilities and projects create construction jobs in their local regions.
We were surprised recently to see that the Bellevue Washington Chamber of Commerce had issued a statement that they would not support the Sound Transit 3, or ST3, infrastructure proposal on the ballot in the Seattle region in November.
The ST3 package is a $54 billion transit package of short and long-range projects to be built over the next 20 years. Truly these are long-range infrastructure projects.
The initial projects would be built to serve the high growth areas and the long-range plans would provide service to the low and medium density areas like Bellevue.
Other Chambers in the Seattle region, including the Seattle Chamber, are supporting this ballot issue as a continuation of the expansion of the transit system as part of regional growth into the future.
In reading the statement from the Bellevue Chamber, it became clear that, while the Bellevue Chamber wants continued growth into the future, this potential system would begin to serve their members in 20 plus years, not today.
The Chamber’s statement advocates for a re-examination of the package and for there to be an emphasis on solving the systemic education problems first, to focus on solving Bellevue’s local issues and then to initiate a transit program that will link to the regional system when costs and maybe even new technologies emerge.
The Bellevue Chamber seems to be saying that they are serving their members’ businesses' needs first and that there are too many open questions in the cost projections and construction schedules that need to be addressed before the Chamber Board will endorse a new regional rail expansion. We will watch this election to see whether the voters pass the ST3 ballot issue in this unusual election cycle.