November 4, 2007

This week in traffic

While working on the deck, I have been commuting about 27 miles across Lake Washington each morning and evening. It takes me through the heart of rush hour traffic. It has varied between 50 minutes and 1:45. I have started staying until dark to get more done and to wait for traffic to die down. Now that we have "fallen back", dark comes sooner and I will be back in the heart of traffic.

We are set to vote on Proposition 1, a regional road and transit package. The proposition is a hodge-podge of projects born out of multiple compromises. It spans three counties and every district needed to feel it was getting its fair share. It also combines 50 mile of light rail and some 150 miles of new roads. It also goes to repair a couple of bridges and add a few bike lanes. The proposition seems to have enough to appease most factions, but not enough to inspire whole-hearted support.

Seattle has the (much deserved?) reputation of over-thinking these projects while traffic continues to get worse. We had an opportunity over 30 years ago to get a rail system built, but it was narrowly defeated. Many of the supporters of the proposition acknowledge that it is not the best, but good enough to get us moving forward.

The costs stated vary between $18 billion to $157 billion depending on who you listen to. Much of the money is raised by increasing our car tabs and sales tax. The proposition will push our sales tax close to 10%. This is part of my problem with the bill. I think the money raised should be more tied to the users of road and transit, i.e. gas tax and tolls.

I'm not sure how I will vote. Is a "good-enough" proposition born of 5 years of compromise worth the cost? Will the varied and disconnected projects do enough to alleviated traffic? Should we vote for it just to say we are doing something?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! 10%! And for a luke warm solution. That's a mind bender.