State transportation proposal is exact opposite of what people want

Image from Sightline (click for story)

Image from Sightline (click for story)

The Senate Majority Caucus Coalition has proposed a transportation package that in no way resembles the desires of Washington residents. If anything, it is the opposite of what people want.

In fact, I’m not sure it’s accurate to call it a “transportation” proposal, since it primarily only funds highway expansions.

Sightline analyzed the data and created the graph above comparing what the state’s own (perhaps not scientific) survey says people want to what the majority coalition is proposing. As you can see, it’s not even close.

But even if we treat the state’s Transportation Commission Survey’s desires as pie-in-the-sky, the proposal is awful even compared to other awful transportation bills we have encountered in recent years. In addition to investing billions in new highways, the proposal would actually reduce funding for biking and walking projects at a time when more and more Washington residents are using their feet and their bikes to get around.

Washington Bikes (formerly the Bicycle Alliance of Washington) thinks that the 2 percent dedicated to vital walking and biking projects should actually be more like 20 percent:

The proposed $12 billion package will spend less than just 2%–two pennies out of a dollar!–on giving you and me alternatives to being stuck in traffic and spending our hard-earned dollars at the pump.

Thursday the State Senate Transportation Committee will hear testimony on this $12 billion transportation proposal. Your legislators need to hear from you today that every day more and more of Washington bikes, walks, and takes transit and a balanced, sensible transportation package will invest accordingly.

This package will guide transportation investment over the next decade. Just some of the reasons we think two cents should instead be two dimes—things you can tell your legislators about why they should dedicate 20% of the new funding to biking, walking, and transit:

  • Your needs: Rapid increases in the number of Washingtonians who can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t drive alone, from youth to seniors, who need to get to school, work, a doctor’s appointment or the grocery store.
  • Local interest: High demand from communities across the state for investments in bike/walk projects for more comfortable connections that encourage healthy transportation and help create room on the streets for those who do need to drive.
  • State interest: At stake—whether or not people and goods can get where they need to go (the person in the bike lane or bus next to you isn’t in the car in front of you!) and whether our kids can walk and bike to school safely.

Add in the fact that bike/walk projects actually create more jobs per dollar invested than traditional road projects (40%-50% more, one study found), and we think this approach is smart for all of Washington.

Here’s what Cascade has to say about it:

The current package fails to provide affordable transportation options or make it safer to walk, bike and drive. The proposed $12 billion package will spend less than two percent on transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects—projects that that we need.

This flawed proposal would also weaken state environmental laws that are completely unrelated to our transportation system. The Senate’s proposal diverts $280 million away from our toxic waste cleanup fund, eliminates protections for our shorelines, and forces Washington to adopt weaker federal protections instead of the stronger laws of the Evergreen State.

Cascade has created a handy online tool (UPDATE: If that link doesn’t work for you, use the state’s District Finder web tool) to help you contact your legislators and tell them you want a transportation package that adequately invests in biking, walking and transit.

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8 Responses to State transportation proposal is exact opposite of what people want

  1. Janine says:

    I had problems getting the legislator info with their thing (though I know who my reps are), so if others experience this, the actual Legislature search page works well.

    http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

  2. Leif Espelund says:

    I sent an email to senator Jean Kohl-Welles saying I didn’t support this bill and that any transportation package should focus on expanding non-SOV transport while maintaining existing infrastructure.

    I got back an automated response saying that she agreed with me and wanted to get this bill passed (huh?), but that republicans were blocking it. Even specifically mentioned how it was important to Boeing. Kind of concerning that my senator seems to be supporting such a huge expansion of auto-centric infrastructure when it isn’t what we want.

    And the fact that this is another subsidy to help keep Boeing happy is frustrating. I’m tired of their extortion, let them go somewhere else.

    • Charles B says:

      I got the same automated BS from my senator. Its nice to know I am being listened to.

      Maybe we need to make direct phone calls?

    • Charles B says:

      Ah it was the same senator, that explains things.

      I sent a mildly cross reply to see if anyone is even bothering to read the emails we send.

      If the senator I elected is not really going to pay attention to the issues that matter to me, I will take my vote elsewhere next time.

    • Kommish says:

      I got the following from Senator Kohl-Welles:
      Thanks for your message with which I completely agree. Their current package will not get through the legislature! But there’s a lot of work going on to come up with a bill that realistic funding for walking, biking and transit operations.

      And having been an intern for a legislator in California, I’m impressed we’re getting responses at all, and to me it doesn’t read particularly spam-botty.

      • Leif Espelund says:

        Yep, I got a similar message back after clarifying my position. Good to know, though I wonder what she considers “realistic.” A couple more percent of $12B?

  3. Charlie says:

    Direct phone calls are ALWAYS better when contacted elected reps. Emails are WAY to easy to send without thinking and so they tend to be much easier to ignore, even in vast quantities. The thinking is that you just go to a site, click send and forget. If you take the time to call, they care much more!

    • Leif Espelund says:

      I totally understand getting a group response mail back, especially if I am just clicking the “send your reps a message” link from some campaign, but it would be nice if whoever is classifying the incoming messages made sure that I am advocating for the same thing as the senator before putting me in the “I agree” group instead of the “I understand your concerns but will ignore you because Boeing” group. Especially when I take the time to write an actual message.

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