You’ll love this. It’s from the debate earlier this week. This is Michael Ennis of the Washington Policy Center. I’ll just let you watch first…

If you can’t watch this (say, at work), what he said was that the market wants more road capacity, and when asked if we should expand 5, 90, 405, he has a very firm ‘yes’.

This is insanity.

First, I think it’s pretty clear by now that the ‘market’ has absolutely nothing to do with what transportation modes are built. I think it’s also clear that there is no way in hell we’re going to drill another I-90 tunnel through Mount Baker, or tear down buildings in downtown Seattle to widen I-5.

I-405 is another story – for $11 billion in projects, we’ll add 110,000 daily trips. Those dollars are 2002 dollars – it’s a lot more today, and as we haven’t even funded it all, it’ll be even more. With light rail, we’ll go from 2030 ridership of some 130,000 without Proposition 1 – to 2030 ridership of 280,000 with it. That’s already half again more cost effective, and remember that those numbers are the most conservative ridership estimates we’ve got – compared to 405, where the 110,000 is the most capacity we’ll ever get. Proposition 1’s Link infrastructure, when it’s as old as 405 is now, will probably carry 500,000 daily riders – or even more – and it won’t need new interchanges and repaving.

Ennis finally gave up the real plan. The opposition has no environmental plan. The opposition has no idea how we’ll get off oil. They just want more highways.

And as for the ‘market’? Sounder is overflowing. Our buses are packed to the gills. Ridership has increased dramatically for transit in the last couple of years, and WSDOT says people are driving less. That’s a pretty clear choice.

18 Replies to “Oh Yeah, They Do Have An Argument…”

    1. That’s what Crosscut has been discussing lately, with talk of expanding the convention center. They argue that they couldn’t possibly put it over I-5, since that would make it harder to expand I-5. Could you imagine the cost and effort of removing (and rebuilding?) Freeway Park and the convention center? It sure makes light rail look cheap.

      1. I’m sad nobody has realized that they don’t care about anything more than roads and cars. The Convention Center and Freeway Park are obstacles to them. The thousands who live adjacent to I-5 are obstacles to them. Light Rail spending is an obstacle to them.

        There is no way you can convince them otherwise.

    2. Yeah, it’s not credible. You’d have to take out the convention center even if you just wanted to add one more lane.

  1. Remember that the silver bullet was the road expansion aspect last year. I think they just shot themselves in the foot.

    1. After Roads & Transit failed last year, mass transit expansion is back on the ballot this year but no sign of another roads measure for the foreseeable future. The RTID planning committee is currently not active and not funded. They have two more chances on the ballot. Will we ever see another RTID roads measure?

  2. Commercial/advertisement proposal idea:

    Black screen with the word “CONGESTION.” appears, fades to show person sitting in car in traffic next to Link tracks, Link train wooshing by.

    Screen showing Tacoma resident looking for parking, Tacoma Link, ST Express bus pass

    Person enters building with a long line. Suddenly, people move over and the person steps forward into a shorter line. It’s revealed that they’re in line for a polling machine.

    Blue screen with ST waves appears “This November, you DO have a choice. Vote YES on Proposition 1, Mass Transit Now!”

    1. I love it, but I’d modify it slightly.

      Don’t even hint at Link at first. You see a person stuck in traffic. Zoom in on his face, and the surroundings change – now he’s in a very long ballot line (unrealistically long, for effect). Suddenly another line opens up and half of the people move to the other line. He smiles and walks forward. The scene changes and he’s still smiling, driving faster. The camera zooms out and you see Link rolling past a line of quick moving traffic.

      Cue blue screen and message.

      1. Those would both be great, but I think TV ad buys are pretty insanely expensive this season.

      2. TV? I thought all ads were on the Internet these days. Make it good enough and it’ll either make the news or get viral distribution.

      3. “Dear Joni,

        Do you have a testing schedule for X segment we could use in a filming bit? Can we get the rights to use footage of Link and ST’s trademarked ‘blue wave’ device?


      4. Okay, fair enough. Maybe Eric and I could get together and do something like this. He’s excellent at putting together video.

  3. I really hope that this measure passes this year. I don’t think the opposition has much of an argument, especially with the year we’ve all just experienced with record-high gas prices, people won’t drive if given a suitable alternative.

    I don’t understand how the opposition expects Seattle to function as it becomes a larger city without some kind of mass transit system with the ability of moving tens of thousands of people around the region quickly and efficiently, without being caught in traffic.

    1. The truth is that many of our transit opponents don’t want Seattle to function as a larger city. Nearly all of the opposition lives in the suburbs, and many are heavily invested in the growth and development of those areas. They see Seattle as competition, and if Seattle’s future can be stymied by lack of adequate rail investment, it’s all the better for their pocketbooks. These folks came of age when “edge cities” were THE future, and central cities were dying left and right. Sadly, they still subscribe to that dismal vision of the urban future.

  4. I also hope the measure passes. That being said. I am not anti-road nor am I anti-transit, in fact I am very pro transit, but every sort of infrastructure is needed. One can argue that yes, we do need to be encouraging less environmental pollution in general, but also, there are many roads in Puget Sound that do need to be either widened, realigned at certain interchanges, or in the case of I-5 through Seattle, completely rebuilt to today’s highway standards and many on and off ramps somehow shifted to a uniform side of the highway. (As for the convention center section, who the heck knows what can be done with I-405 does need to be widened at key points, why that thing only has two general purpose lanes in some sections that is only now being remedied is beyond me. Just a uniform number of lanes throughout the whole corridor would probably work wonders.

    That being said though, there also needs to be transit alternatives that are effective and fast that give an option to people who don’t want to drive. Hence why I’m voting yes on Prop 1. For me, it really has nothing to do with stopping global warming or CO2 emissions or less pollution. Its just a smart idea to invest in multiple forms of infrastructure that move people around so that we aren’t stuck with just one mode of transportation or dependent on one type of fuel in order to get around.

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