Reading Joel Connelly makes me ill these days. His lastest screed is a pure blast of the kind of thinking so typical among the reactionary old hippy crowd in Seattle.
I agree with Joel that Mayor Nickels richly deserves scorn. If only he could have scrounged up cash for a down payment on the monorail with the same fervor he found for keeping a tunnel on life support. Gregoire did not come off so well either, caught between the city and its legislators with dueling visions of new freeways. However, the results are hardly a disaster, giving momentum to studying a surface boulevard with reasonable traffic capacity.
Joel goes off the tracks from there, presaging doom for Sound Transit 2 and the RTID roads package the legislature has seen fit to stitch to it. He scoffs at John Ladenberg for claiming interagency coordination is good. What of the viaduct, he asks? Where is the harmony on 520, 405, and Eastside light rail?
Well, Joel, let me answer those rhetorical questions. Light rail has been a part of the I-90 plan since that center roadway was built. The I-405 plan is complete, and awaits only money to deliver more lanes, HOV access ramps and BRT service. The Pacific Interchange has gained the City of Seattle’s blessing, so the 520 plan is similarly waiting mainly for cash.
Joel’s analysis of a solution isn’t any better than his read on the problem. Creating a regional board wouldn’t reduce complexity, since it won’t actually replace RTID,ST,KCM,PT,CT,ET,PSRC or any other acronym. It would just add another layer of political gamesmanship. With as-yet undefined boundaries and districts, the likelyhood is a suburban domination of the process. The suburbs are already getting more than their fair share with Metro’s funding formula.
Joel’s true problem with the existing setup comes out at the end. It isn’t doing enough to stop Ron Sims and Erica Barnett from oppressing the masses with light rail social engineering. Buses are cheaper, m’kay? He praises San Diego’s regional bond measure, which is 2/3 road projects, with buses making up most of the transit component.
Tellingly, he also praises the TransLink “reform” in British Columbia, which is largely designed to dilute the influence of Vancouver and the other municipalities and move decision making to the provincial level. This is to grease the skids for the unpopular “Gateway” freeway building projects and other asphalt being pushed by the Minister of Transportation.
Does Connelly have something similar in mind? I can only imagine the I-605 and 8-lane 520 ideas which will have to be “given a fair hearing” at his new commission. It certainly won’t be listening to any wild ideas about rapid streetcars or induced demand. That’s social engineering, doncha know. In fact, I’m sure if I was patient enough to pull out some microfilm, I could find a column just like this denouncing Forward Thrust in 1968. Wrong then, wrong now.