The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, February 25, 2008

$4 billion for 6 lane 520

"Six lanes plus" for the 520 bridge

The debate over the Highway 520 bridge has come down to "six lanes plus" — six lanes, plus space to add two rail or bus lanes in the future, versus "six lanes minus," meaning that two lanes could be stripped away and replaced with rails. We are for six lanes plus, for reasons that should be obvious.

The bridge is full now. At peak hours it is overfull, and in both directions. And yet in Seattle and on the Eastside, people keep building houses, town houses, condos and apartments. Our region is dynamic. People come here. Therefore, it is a safe bet that more people will be wanting to cross the lake every decade.Six lanes is a 50-percent increase over what exists. But for the 21st century, six lanes is small. A six-lane bridge will be full at rush hour, right from the start. The new bridge will have to charge tolls, and not only for finance but to limit demand — that is, to price the bridge out of reach of people who can't or won't have $6, or whatever the toll is.

Now imagine that we have "six lanes minus," and that 20 years from now we add a rail line so that we go from six lanes back to four. It would be like deciding today to go back to two lanes. It would be preposterous.

Gov. Christine Gregoire sees this. "If we're going to put $4 billion into the design," says her senior adviser, Ron Judd, "we have to give the next generation the option to add more high-capacity transit." That is right.

The Montlake neighbors want the assurance that no further additions to the bridge could increase its capacity for cars. Theirs is not a reasonable request.

The governor may promise today that six lanes is it, and government can be bound by that for several decades. But today's generation cannot bind future generations on the question of road capacity. Future generations will make up their own minds about it. Maybe they will all ride trains by then. Maybe they won't.

Today's policymakers should preserve options for their children and grandchildren, not shut them off.

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