Friday, November 16, 2007

The Road(s)--and Transit--Ahead

As the fall-out continues from last week's failure of the Roads & Transit package, a variety of leaders are offering their perspectives on what happened and, perhaps more important, what to do next.

Don Brunell, President of the Association of Washington Business, echoes the sentiments of RAMP Co-Chair John Ladenburg that action is badly needed:
Despite $11 billion in new taxes and fees over the last five years, traffic congestion is choking the state's economy and leaving drivers trapped in 30 mph "rush hour" traffic. If we wait, congestion will only get worse and costs will go even higher. For example, the cost of road repair materials has increased an average of 33 percent in the past three years. And if we wait too long, we could experience a tragedy like the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis.
Brunell recommends the following directions for future action:
  • Hand major projects over to the private sector (companies like Cintra are building the roads, and motorists pay them back through tolls);
  • Implement "congestion pricing," on Washington's highways, whether those roads are publicly or privately operated.
Meanwhile, Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl reports that her agency "will reach out to the public and our key stakeholders to ask questions, listen to their answers and learn more about how we should move ahead." ST has employed EMC Research and Moore Information to survey the region's voters as part of that process.