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, March 10, 2008

Any solution must prioritize congestion relief

Thursday, January 4, 2007

We can fix congestion problems


Transportation is an issue never far from our minds. We think about it when we're stuck in traffic, when we drive past an accident or when we consider any expensive proposal promising to somehow reduce congestion.

What most of us don't think about is the complex, bureaucratic network that oversees planning and governance of the vast transportation system in the central Puget Sound region and Washington state. It's important that we all pay attention to this critical aspect of our transportation system. The frustrating truth is, the transportation planning and governance structure in our region and state is inadequate; it wastes taxpayers' money and needs to be reformed now.

A year ago in November, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the state Transportation Commission issued a 20-year Washington Transportation Plan. Unfortunately, it isn't a good plan at all. It just offers a mix of valuable data, general objectives, projects and slogans. It lacks a unifying framework, real direction and other key elements required for genuine, effective planning.

The whole point of a legitimate transportation plan is to recognize the current situation and the problems therein, and to offer a clear objective and specific, effective recommendations on how to improve transportation. My colleagues with the Eastside Transportation Association and I offered specific suggestions to WSDOT on how to improve its Washington Transportation Plan. Among our suggestions:

· It should provide a clear vision with specific and measurable goals. The WTP's stated goals are largely slogans, with no attempt to identify certain goals or targets.

· It should utilize the conclusions from WSDOT's recently completed Congestion Relief Study.

· It should provide an assertive, top-down leadership role for WSDOT in all planning for highways of statewide significance, such as Interstate 5, I-405, I-90, state Route 18 and many others. At the state level, WSDOT would be the logical agency to step into the role of being "the top transportation dog" but it has largely shifted with the political winds instead of taking a bold leadership stance on transportation issues.

· It should present a plan for dealing with I-5's serious deficiencies, including where it passes underneath the downtown Washington State Convention and Trade Center (the state's worst chokepoint). But the WTP barely mentions I-5.

In November, the Regional Transportation Commission issued a draft report pointing out flaws in the central Puget Sound's "broken" transportation planning and governance system. The RTC draft report noted that our region's transportation crisis is caused by two primary factors: a history of underfunding transportation and the absence of a unified regional transportation governance system.

The report said our region's transportation governance system, consisting of more than 100 agencies, delivers inadequate results. The RTC report said the present problems are the consequence of having "too many well-meaning cooks in the kitchen with no one empowered" as an overall decision-maker. It's no wonder so many people view much of our transportation system with distrust and skepticism.

Congestion is the problem and we can do something about it. But first our political leaders must devise a plan to make things better, not less worse. We need a top-down approach. The RTC report recommends the creation of a regional transportation governance entity. A better approach might be for WSDOT, along with the governor, to show more leadership in terms of governing and planning Washington's transportation system.

We've been floundering long enough. Our region and state need real direction on transportation.

Bill Eager is a member of the Eastside Transportation Association

The articles are posted solely for educational purposes to raise awareness of transportation issues. I claim no authorship, nor do I profit from this website. Where known, all original authors and/or source publisher have been noted in the post. As this is a knowledge base, rather than a blog, I have reproduced the articles in full to allow for complete reader understanding and allow for comprehensive text searching...see custom google search engine at the top of the page. If you have concerns about the inclusion of a specific article, please email for a speedy resolution.