Why gutting our high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes is a bad idea

September 4, 2008 by · Comments Off on Why gutting our high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes is a bad idea
Filed under: Analysis 

If Initiative 985 is approved, high occupancy vehicle (or carpool) lanes will be open to everyone at almost all hours of the day, including rush hour.

This would dramatically worsen traffic and lead to an increase in commute times for families all over Puget Sound.

The goals of the HOV system, as defined by the Department of Transportation, are:

  • To maximize the people-carrying capacity of the freeway system by providing incentives to use buses, vanpools and carpools.
  • To provide capacity for future travel growth.
  • To help reduce transportation-related pollution and dependency on fossil fuels.

Gutting HOV lanes would paralyze our bus system and deliberately punish those Washingtonians who are doing their part to reduce traffic and reduce carbon emissions by riding motorcycles or traveling together in a carpool or vanpool. That’s a step in the wrong direction that will hurt each and every one of us who shares the road.

We can’t afford for our traffic to get any worse. That’s why we have to reject I-985.

Governor Gregoire strongly opposed to I-985

September 1, 2008 by · Comments Off on Governor Gregoire strongly opposed to I-985
Filed under: Endorsements 

Recently, the NPI Advocate published an interview with Chris Gregoire which included a question asking for her position on Initiative 985. Here’s the governor’s interview with NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve:

ANDREW: You’ve been good about coming out and telling people where you stand on issues; that’s something your opponent doesn’t do. Do you have a position on Initiative 985, the traffic measure – the More Traffic Measure?

GOVERNOR: Opposed.

ANDREW: You’re opposed?

GOVERNOR: Opposed.

ANDREW: You don’t like the idea of opening carpool lanes during rush hour?

GOVERNOR: No! It won’t work! Because it’s this… micromanaging… saying, these hours [referring to the set six hours when carpool lanes will remain carpool lanes]…well, it doesn’t work like that on every road! So what we’re going to end up with is an inability to enforce from a law enforcement perspective – it won’t work – and we’re going to have worse congestion, not better. Worse congestion.

So, it’s a bill of goods, it’s not going to work, and oh by the way, it’s going to steal money from the general fund… which means we’re going to steal money from education, or healthcare, or community safety.

ANDREW: And you’re aware that the initiative actually prohibits spending money on ferries and rail and other [alternatives to highways]…?


ANDREW: I mean, it’s ridiculous.

GOVERNOR: Yeah. Absolutely. So, absolutely opposed.

Initiative 985 would steal money away from underfunded services like our schools, worsen your commute, and lengthen the amount of time you’re away from your family. I-985 is a bad idea. Vote no.

I-985: A mess for westbound SR 520

August 7, 2008 by · Comments Off on I-985: A mess for westbound SR 520
Filed under: Noteworthy Columns 

The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly nails one of the many bad, unintended consequences of I-985:

Traveling Route 520 at 6:20 Friday, I found stop-and-go traffic from 84th Avenue Northeast to the bridge. The state Transportation Department’s rush-hour map shows even greater congestion much of the time. 

By throwing open the express lanes, I-985 would expand stop-and-go traffic from two lanes to three and defeat the whole purpose of getting people into buses and van pools.

But it may be even worse than Connelly thinks. Merging creates congestion. Right now, the narrowing of SR-520 westbound from 3 lanes to 2, right before the floating bridge, isn’t a major problem — but only because it’s an HOV-3 lane. There are few enough vehicles that the merge doesn’t gum up traffic. But I-985 would turn the 3rd lane into an HOV-2 lane during rush hour, and a general purpuose lane the rest of the time. Adding more vehicles to the merging lane will absolutely hammer westbound traffic — leading to even longer backups to the 520 bridge, and not just at rush hour.

Only four out of Washington’s thirty nine counties have HOV lanes

July 26, 2008 by · Comments Off on Only four out of Washington’s thirty nine counties have HOV lanes
Filed under: Analysis 

I-985 turns the management of HOV lanes into a statewide decision. Yet only 4 counties have HOV lanes: Pierce, Snohomish, King, and Kitsap.

Because of a technicality, Kitsap county’s lanes aren’t even affected by I-985. So why are voters from all across the state deciding how to manage a local traffic issue that only affects three counties?

Where are Washington State’s HOV lanes?

July 24, 2008 by · Comments Off on Where are Washington State’s HOV lanes?
Filed under: Analysis 

I-985 “turns off” the state’s HOV lanes during most hours of the day.

Here are all the HOV lanes on Washington State highways:

Note that they’re entirely in a narrow strip of land bordering the Puget Sound — a tiny portion of the state. Over three-quarters of the HOV system is in King County alone. And yet I-985 asks folks with little understanding of local conditions, from all corners of the state, to make a decision on how to manage them. That’s just not good policy: people with good knowledge of local conditions should be making decisions about HOV lanes. Anything else just doesn’t make sense.