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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 2, 2014 at 6:03 AM

King County Prop. 1: high costs of congestion; serving the underserved

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

The costs from congestion is already too high

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute rates Seattle’s gridlock at six hours per day, with delays costing trucking $546,000,000 per year [“Should voters invest in roads, transit?” Opinion, March 30]. For each of our personal vehicles, it cited $1,519 of congestion cost by 2006. Meanwhile, we add almost 40,000 residents per year.

Fixing the growing problem requires highway improvements and huge spending. Replacing our crumbling viaduct with a 1.7 mile tunnel will total nearly $3 billion. Highway 520 changes cost $4.6 billion. Neither added capacity. That would have cost far more and required costly improvements to choked city streets and parking.

The main alternative is transit. Metro has 400,000 boardings daily. In contrast, Interstate 5 moves only 207,000 vehicles daily at Seneca, Highway 99 moves 60,000 north of the West Seattle Bridge and Interstate 90 handles just 145,000 east of Interstate 405.

There is no cheap solution when congestion costs for just trucking equal taxes spent for the entire Metro operations budget. Rides on Metro almost exactly match the cited number of vehicles on I-5, I-90 and Highway 99 combined. How many of those 118 million annual riders can we force into cars as worsening congestion already costs each driver $1,500 dollars per year and costs trucking over half a billion?

Proposition 1 is cheap by comparison and vital to our roads and economy.

Brian Sherlock, Shoreline

Better transportation for underserved communities

I disagree with guest columnist Bill Eager’s characterization of our transportation system in King County. Public spending on transportation in our car-oriented culture greatly favors motorists and neglects underserved communities who need transportation options.

Spending transportation dollars on new highways and neglecting public transportation subsidizes motorists at the expense of seniors, the disabled, students and those in poverty who cannot afford to own a car. Supporting public transportation gives people transportation options, takes cars off the road and pollution out of the air.

Knowing this, the writer’s anecdote about the Queen Anne lawyer is ridiculous. I think anyone who’s been on a bus knows Metro disproportionately services the needy, not Queen Anne lawyers and bankers.

The converse of this anecdote would more accurately reflect the reality: We should not use all our transportation dollars on new highway projects for millionaires to cruise down in their sports cars while we leave the single mother waiting with her two children at a bus stop in the rain for an hour. Please vote “yes” on Proposition 1 to give King County residents transportation choices.

Lucas Simons, Seattle

Comments | More in Metro, Traffic congestion, Transportation | Topics: Bill Eager, king county metro, Lucas Simons

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