Dori Monson: These are the real reasons for Seattle's terrible trafficJune 11, 2014 @ 1:09 pm (Updated: 2:45 pm - 6/12/14 )
We've had a few recent hellish commutes in Seattle. This Tuesday, there was an accident on 99 that had people stuck in their cars for hours, and a few weeks ago, a loose piece of metal on an I-5 expansion joint seriously tangled up the morning commute.
Traffic is so regularly bad in this region, that even before the incident this week, our own KIRO Radio Reporter Chris Sullivan was planning to unveil his three-part series called "choke points," looking at the region's traffic.
But I want to share what I think are the real reasons for the terrible traffic we experience in Seattle.
Here's my take on this, the department of transportation, for as long as I've been doing this show, has never been about regional mobility. It has never been about transportation, and getting people from point A to point B. It is a jobs program. In my view, that is all that the department of transportation is.
If you want some examples of that, just look right above our radio station. On the Roanoke Exit off I-5, they spent $25 million three years ago to build a concrete wall that they called a sound barrier to protect the houses from the freeway noise.
Those people who bought those houses had already gotten a cheaper price because the house was right next to a freeway. Yet the department of transportation decided that sound barriers should be a priority.
I will tell you that I have talked to at least two department of transportation directors who have told me privately that they know that's not a good expenditure of money. But did the unions want it? Absolutely they did, because they can spend $25 million just to build a concrete wall. It was an outrageous project.
You want some more examples of that? Go over to the Eastside. Go over to Redmond and look at the wildlife overpasses and underpasses. Look at all the nonsense we spend money on. There are so many examples of this.
Then, you combine all of that with the fact that we have spent billions and billions of dollars on things like Sound Transit that was never designed to alleviate traffic woes. By their own environmental impact statement back in 1996, they admitted at most they would get one-tenth of one percent of the cars off the road. We spent billions of dollars on something that has accomplished nothing for traffic in the region.
The problem is that we look at transportation as a jobs program, and we spend billions of dollars on stuff they know won't accomplish a thing because the engineers want it, and the politicians want to provide it to those unions so that they can get their votes.
That's why we're in the mess we are right now. As long as they are more concerned about providing jobs to unions than moving people around, we'll never have a solution.
Taken from Wednesday's edition of The Dori Monson Show.
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