Yesterday, details were released about the “compromise” transportation package (ESSB 5987). “Compromise” here means token elements for transit, bicycling, and pedestrians in exchange for massive road spending. The state Senate has already raced to approve the package before most anyone could examine it. The House is expected to do so shortly.
Everything in this bill is an afterthought to widening highways throughout the state. Widening highways has never been an effective way of moving people in any city in any country. This bill will encourage more sprawl, leaving us with the same problems that we have today and the cost to fix it (with measures similar to ST3) will go up after 16 more years of road-induced sprawl.
Taxing transit in ST3 to build roads is insulting to those who support transit.
The spending for pedestrian and bicycle travel is a start. Every dollar spent on good pedestrian and bicycling projects will save the state money in the long-term, directly from transportation costs and indirectly from things like health costs. The spending priorities are backwards.
At this point, I believe the state is better with no bill than 5987.
I challenge you to figure out how to move people with a substantially cheaper budget, say half. The answer won’t be wider highways.
A big part of the problem with transit in the Seattle area is attempting to serve the Eastside. It’s just really expensive to try to serve all of the low density area on the Eastside. All of these roads are going to continue the sprawl across the state, leading to more areas that need some sort of transit if/when they figure out that their wider roads haven’t solved any problems. And this ignores the sheer cost of these roads (and their maintenance!) when the state struggles to fund other important programs.
I believe it is time to drastically cut the WSDOT budget, especially when not only are they focusing on roads but even stealing money away from transit. At best, it will lead WSDOT to more cost-effective forms of transportation. At worst, it will limit the damage they can do.