Ron Upshaw: We need to add more lanes everywhere
Watching seven year olds play soccer isn’t that fun. Why? They haven’t figured out to play where the ball is going to be instead of where the ball is. So you get a blob of kids swarming around the ball without much strategy.
I believe this is the perfect metaphor for how the Pacific Northwest deals with infrastructure. We can’t seem to look to where the ball is going to be only where it is right now. From mass transit to homelessness, there are no shortages of issues that are surrounded by a blob of people yelling at each other and kicking the proverbial ball back and forth.
Look no further than the new $3 billion plans to “fix” I-405. It’s a multi-year endeavor using proposed toll lanes and buses to improve the gridlock by 2024. If history holds true, by the time we get to 2024, it will be about as bad as it is now and perhaps worse.
Does anyone remember when we straightened the S-Curves? That was going to be the big fix for the foreseeable future. Except the solution was all but obsolete by the time it was finished. Then it was the toll lanes. Then that weird merging system that supposed to get the cars flowing. It did not. I’d like to point out that it’s not normal for a community so big to lag so far behind projections.
The Eastside’s over-reliance on single lanes
The biggest mystery to me on the Eastside is the resistance to add any traffic lanes to improve capacity. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you go from one lane to two lanes, you at least double the capacity. Can anyone explain to me why we think this area is quaint collection of little hamlets that only need one lane country roads?
You want to get from Highway 2 to Bothell? One lane each way. How about Redmond to Duvall? Yep, one lane. What happens when you add a golf course and thousands of cars to the top of Novelty Hill – why leave it one lane up and one lane down? What could possibly go wrong? Why should there be additional lanes?
It makes no sense. I’m sure you experience the same thing that I do when I travel. You go to a city like Phoenix or Dallas or virtually any other city in the top 20 metros and the standard road is a minimum of three lanes each way. We’re not talking about the interstate, just the regular road to go down to the grocery store. When you get to the freeway, there are big generous on-ramps and off-ramps, up to six and sometimes eight lanes through the busiest sections. And the result is that people spend less time in their cars and traffic moves more efficiently.
Do I need to go on? I’m looking at you choke point under the convention center.
So while there’s bound to be much hand wringing and driver pain on 405, my humble opinion is to add more lanes. Everywhere.
I’m hoping that I’m dead wrong about this new $3 billion dollar project, but I suspect that I am not.
Did I mention that it’s dumb to have only one lane?