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March 27, 2007

Environmentalists excited about Senate Bill 5412 to revise state transportation goals

The planning process for transportation in Washington State is frustrating for environmentalists because we use 1950’s auto-centric transportation planning.  This outdated approach causes transportation projects to be governed by a set of false assumptions where the state defines the capacity in a transportation corridor as how many single cars can move from point A to point B, rather than how to move the greatest number of people and goods through a corridor and how to create healthy and environmentally oriented communities.   The current auto-centric approach to transportation in Washington State creates limited choices in state and local planning and frames every transportation improvement as a choice between cars and more cars. 

State Senator Ed Murray’s Senate Bill 5412 will bring transportation planning into the 21st century by focusing limited transportation resources in a pro-environment and fiscally responsible way.  The bill (SSB 5412) is divided into five areas of focus: preservation, safety, mobility, environment and stewardship.  Lets take a closer look at why the bill would make a big difference in future transportation planning.

In the bill preservation is about maintaining, preserving and extending the life of prior transportation investments.  With federal funding virtually gone for transportation infrastructure, getting the most life out of prior transportation investments makes fiscal and common sense. 

Making safety a top priority is an important focus in the bill and it should be.  Too often in Washington State, a highway will be getting expanded in one community, while in another community the safety and security of a highway is compromised.  With our culture of car dependency, there is too much complacency about deaths and accidents on our states highway’s and roads and that culture of complacency must change. 

Creating mobility is an exciting part of this bill.  In the focus on moving cars on and off the ramps of highways we’ve lost sight of what it takes to move people and goods in our cities and on our roads.  It’s hard to imagine living without constant gridlock.  However, when we create transportation choices, the possibility of moving beyond the current nightmare becomes a reality because we can redefine the way we get around our communities by doing the right kind of planning for major road projects, provide important resources for our local roads, put funding into transit, and support walking and biking in our communities. 

Enhancing the quality of life with our transportation investments is the part of this bill that will look at the impact on the environment and how to create healthy communities.  Energy conversation will be a focus of the bill.  It is critically important as we begin to take responsibility for the long-term effects of a transportation system that is negatively impacting our environment in a fiscal and physical way.

Finally, the concept of stewardship of our transportation system is part of this bill.  For too long we have under funded the most basic kinds of maintenance and repair allowing our infrastructure to deteriorate to the point where the cost of fixing the infrastructure goes way beyond what basic upkeep would have cost.

We need this kind of pro-transit and pro-environment legislation more often.  The State Senate can be congratulated for moving the bill forward with such strong support, now it’s up to the State House and the Governor to show the same kind of leadership and recognize the progress that will happen with our transportation system  with the passage of SSB 5412.

Posted by EzraBasom on March 27, 2007 at 09:53 AM in Policy | Permalink

Comments

Another great post, Ezra. You never let me down. Every buzzword and catch phrase in the book, no cliche left behind, and not an ounce of substance in any of it.

Posted by: ivan | Mar 27, 2007 1:37:52 PM

Ezra,

I thank you for clarifying the purpose of Murray's bill. I too am focused on the need for speeding up the process of dealing with transportation in a manner that makes sense for the current situation.

And I blow a kiss to Ivan for being such a consistent curmudgeon.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 27, 2007 2:33:55 PM

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