I-985 ignores the congestion audit

August 7, 2008 by
Filed under: Analysis 

In a Seattle Times op/ed piece, Floyd McKay nails I-985 for its duplicity. The measure claims that it’s carrying out the recommendations of Washington’s recent congestion audit. But it does no such thing:

Eyman maintains that I-985 supports Auditor Brian Sonntag’s “congestion” audit of the Department of Transportation. Of 22 major recommendations in Sonntag’s
report, only synchronization of traffic lights is addressed in I-985. The audit doesn’t recommend limiting tolls on Seattle’s bridges or high-occupancy toll lanes (HOTs), or opening HOV lanes in off-peak hours. It doesn’t deal with freeway artwork or red light cameras. Eyman’s initiative assumes car-generated congestion can be fixed cost-free without other forms of transportation. One of Sonntag’s four general recommendations is “increasing efforts to have people use carpools, transit and telecommuting.” Yet funds in Eyman’s RTC account are barred from buses, rail or park-and-ride.

You heard that right. Initiative 985 almost completely ignores the congestion audit, despite its claim to the contrary. (Traffic light synchronization is already underway in most places.)

Actually, I’m being too nice about this: Initiative 985 actively undermines the congestion audit. The reason State Auditor Sonntag recommended expanding alternative travel is because it is an extremely cost-effective way to solve congestion and mobility problems. It’s hard to get a better deal than multiplying the efficiency of the existing system by filling those empty seats. But 985 shuts down HOV lanes, ties-up key revenue streams, and just generally gives buses and carpools the short end of the stick.

That’s not congestion relief; that’s either confusion or ideology.


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