Article as published at Crosscut
Population in the four counties of Central Puget Sound will have grown from the 2008 total of 3.6 million by another 1.4 million in 2040. Jobs will increase by 1.1 million, and – based on the region’s collective proclivities to date – total vehicle miles travelled (VMT) by more than 40 percent. Barring some big paradigm shift, the percentage of daily “passenger” work trips (freight vehicles not included) which occur on transit will grow from 8 percent of the current (2006) total to only 9 percent in 2040. For far more numerous non-work passenger trips, the transit market share stays at a scant 2 percent between 2006 and 2040, according to recent modeling. The vast majority of daily passenger trips occur in cars now and then. For work it’s more than four of five, for non-work, about nine of ten. (The rest are split between transit, walking and biking.) On the upside, there’s a lot more ride-sharing for non-work trips; plus, per-capita VMT will continue to stay flat; and we can shave a bit off the expected growth in total VMT by meeting (elusive) regional growth strategy targets.
These are some of the conclusions in a March 2009 background paper that’s part of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s “Transportation 2040” planning effort. Future projections may change slightly under new computer modeling in a draft environmental impact statement due out at month’s end. But you get the idea. The PSRC’s 2040 picture begs a huge question: what to do about it all. And, as we’ll see in a moment, it turns out that, away from the big transportation headlines it made last session, the state legislature has some ideas of its own.
My own take: A comprehensive approach to managing peak-hour highway capacity in Central Puget Sound should be launched by bravely establishing – and soon – a seamless regional system of variably-priced, automated and ultimately, corridor-length tolling on highways and major state routes. This must be folded into a broader plan to develop stable long-term funding for the region’s surface transportation network.
Article as published at Crosscut
Earlier this month, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims announced an historic accord to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct on SR 99 along the downtown Seattle waterfront with an inland deep bored tunnel. (The last page of this state summary provides details on all project components and planned funding – the tunnel is expected to cost between $1.2 and $2.2 billion). State legislative approval is required. Now, Washington State Senate Majority Caucus Chair Ed Murray, State Senate Transportation Committee Chair Mary Margaret Haugen (pictured, right), the committee’s Ranking Minority Member Dan Swecker, and committee member Fred Jarrett of Mercer Island have introduced Senate Bill 5768 to get the tunnel built. Read More ›
An editorial tonight online at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praises the smart decision by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive to take a harder look at an inland deep bore tunnel to replace the worn out Alaskan Way Viaduct on State Route 99 in downtown Seattle. Could this be the Year of the Tunnel for Seattle? An idea that seemed buried could make a decisive comeback. After being left off a list of two final possibilities for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a waterfront tunnel survived the end of 2008. On Tuesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels postponed a final decision on a long-term replacement, which they Read More ›
Have you ever seen a whole lot more of the mighty Columbia River and Portland’s skyline than you really wanted to, because you were crawling on Interstate 5? C’mon, raise your hands. Well, good news. The government is here to help. And so are you and I. Probably. The Oregonian’s Dylan Rivera reports today that at a meeting yesterday of the 39-member Columbia River Crossing Task Force, tolls emerged as a likely ingredient in the recipe to fund a fix for the badly-congested Interstate Bridge corridor on I-5. The early and perhaps rose-colored estimate is that tolls would range from $1.28 each way during off-peak hours to $2.56 at peak periods. They would be collected electronically, and provide an estimated Read More ›