Monday, September 14, 2009

Most Popular Pavings - Good Intentions

Paula Hammond, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), was featured at today's Transportation Club of Tacoma meeting.

Her presentation could be considered a lament. She recounted her first day of the job, when the Milwaukee bridge collapsed that lead directly to WSDOT's decision to close the Murray Morgan Bridge. Then, she recalled the first (of three) floodings of I-5 that lead to miles of truck-trailers queued with no alternative routes. And, she talked of a funding tie between cents per gallon and a declining gas sales/miles driven both because of consumer behavior changes and recessionary responses. And, let's not even get started on the state's ferries!

She did point to the $10 billion of projects just in the Puget Sound area, with another $5 billion in other parts of the state. Of 391 projects at the beginning, 183 are completed, 82 are under construction and 22 are about to go into construction. For anyone who wants to check up on their particular interest in a project(s), go to their website.

Q's from the audience covered a wide range of topics, but the most popular subject seemed to be SR-167. In response, Hammond noted that the corridor lost its funding proposal with the failure of Proposition 1. Now that transit has passed its expansion measure, the region is left without addressing its road future. The legislature has funded a tolling study for the completion of SR-167, to measure revenue potential and traffic diversions. SR-167 remains a hot topic, not because of the HOT Lanes tolling in the HOV lanes, but because of the new threat to flooding from failures in the Howard Hanson Dam.

All this and more makes one wish for debates of old when road surfaces were evaluated for quieter performance versus cost-effective permanency.

No comments:

Post a Comment