The Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, photo from
Washington's legislature is out with an
, so I thought I'd make a few sweeping generalizations devoid of nuance but instructive nonetheless:
Building roads and highways can increase the number of people able to travel by car, but in the long run it can't improve travel times—it can actually make them worse by encouraging more sprawl, and the longer and longer commutes that accompany it.
Investing in transit can increase capacity and improve travel times—for example, by replacing bus lines in mixed traffic with unobstructed subway lines, or by converting mixed-traffic lanes into bus-only lanes and increasing bus frequency.
So, in light of:
- Declining vehicle-miles traveled both nationallyand locally;
- Advances in driverless technology, expansion of car-share programs, and shifts toward more active transportation likely to erode car ownership and use even further;
- Massiveimpending cuts to King County Metro's service and previous cuts to Community and Pierce Transit;
- An ever-growing highway maintenance backlog, in addition to a seemingly endless list of partially-funded in-progress highway projects; and
- A general agreement that effective transit is better for health, safety, personal wealth, business, productivity, and the environment;
...why is the state planning to
spend $7 billion on building more and wider highways, but investing almost nothing in transit, bicycling, or pedestrian inrastructure?