Sunday, January 23, 2022
HomeCyclingWA Transportation Secretary: Additional freeway growth is ‘a useless finish’

WA Transportation Secretary: Additional freeway growth is ‘a useless finish’


The variety of individuals killed whereas strolling or biking in Washington is headed within the improper route. Pictures from Secretary Millar’s presentation (PDF).

Washington Transportation Secretary Roger Millar argued in opposition to additional freeway growth throughout his State of Transportation presentation to the Home Transportation Committee this week. As a substitute, he argued for “a resilient response” to the state’s main challenges, together with local weather change, inequitable visitors impacts and growing visitors accidents and deaths.

“We’re a Goal Zero state, and we’re going the improper means,” stated Millar. “The information exhibits our system isn’t secure. It kills individuals, and we have to make investments to cease that.” WSDOT estimates that the financial price of collisions, accidents and deaths is about $14 billion per yr. After all, a life is extra essential than cash.

Chart showing the annual cost of various transportation challenges. Safety is by far the highest at $14 billion.In the meantime, the state is investing lower than half of what it must be investing to keep up present infrastructure. The state has been constructing a variety of new and expanded infrastructure, which solely makes it harder to keep up the infrastructure the state already has. As that new infrastructure comes due for upkeep, the backlog will get that a lot worse. At this level, the state would want to spend a few billion {dollars} extra per yr than it’s at the moment spending simply to tread water.

Table showing about $2 billion in annual maintenance need but only $900 million in annual funding.One a part of the answer is to cease attempting to develop highways to unravel congestion. WSDOT gave a tough estimate that it could price upwards of $115 billion over ten years so as to add sufficient lanes to freeways to permit individuals to drive the velocity restrict always. That may require as a lot as $2.50 per gallon in further fuel taxes. This tough estimate doesn’t even embrace all the prices related to growing native and connector roads to satisfy the induced demand from the newly-widened freeways.

“Addressing congestion by including lanes to the Interstate system will not be financially possible, it’s not economically possible, it’s not environmentally possible. It’s simply not going to occur,” stated Millar. “We’d like to consider doing issues in a different way.” He even stated that the state’s path of regularly increasing freeways to unravel congestion has “come to a useless finish.”

One other a part of the answer is to search out methods to raised use the infrastructure we have now and spend money on options to driving. Offering inexpensive housing choices near jobs is “the one smartest thing” the legislature might do to assist meet this purpose, he stated. When individuals reside near jobs and their different locations, they’ll extra simply stroll and bike to get what they want.

“Getting extra out of the system we have already got by managing the system and managing demand for the system,” stated Millar. “The only smartest thing that this physique, the legislature, might do in addressing our transportation demand wants can be to handle the necessity for inexpensive housing close to the place individuals work. Hyperlink transportation and land use. Make the alternatives about inexpensive housing linked to the alternatives about inexpensive transportation. Make it straightforward and secure to take quick journeys by strolling and biking.”

The state’s model new Lively Transportation Plan recognized $5 billion in wants, together with issues like sidewalks, paths and bike services throughout the state. Transit wants and alternatives, which pair nicely with these lively transportation investments, are additionally in depth.

Hopefully legislators listened to Secretary Millar’s evaluation of the state’s wants with an open thoughts. They’re working to construct a significant funding bundle throughout this quick session, and the trail to altering WSDOT’s work begins with legislators, not the Secretary. WSDOT is tasked with constructing the tasks that the legislature earmarks whether or not these tasks are good or not. If legislators follow the identical outdated pet challenge earmarking that has plagued earlier transportation funding packages, then our state will get the identical outdated outcomes: Extra expensive automobile infrastructure we will’t afford to keep up that additional entrenches communities in an limitless reliance on unsustainable and unaffordable personal automobile transportation. Or they might do issues in a different way, prioritizing freeway spending that maintains secure infrastructure, increasing funding for strolling, biking and transit so individuals don’t have to drive, and investing in communities harmed by previous freeway building.

You possibly can watch the entire State of Transportation presentation on TVW:

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