RON AND DON

Ron: A history of why Seattle traffic is so terribly bad

Apr 9, 2018, 2:01 PM
pay-per-mile,. seattle traffic...
Seattle's roadways are becoming more congested as the city's population booms. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Seattle traffic sucks, am I right?

If you’ve been a Pacific Northwesterner for more than a minute, then you know that the real motto of Washington is not “Bye and bye” but instead, “traffic sucks.”

RELATED: Ramp meters coming to I-5 at Mercer “won’t make mess worse”

For as long as I’ve been here, that has been a consistent mantra. But how do you fix it? What’s the solution? In its simplest form, it’s a fairly easy question. Either you decrease the number of cars or you increase the surface for cars to drive on.

So far, so good. But actually finding real world answers that will work is much harder than it seems. Before I give you my two cents on the latest proposal about congestion tolling, let me remind you of a brief history of transportation proposals.

Seattle traffic

I’m skipping over the trolleys and train tracks of the 1920s and jumping to modern times. Civic leader Jim Ellis made an impassioned plea for a subway system in the Emerald City in November 1965. Never happened.

Voters rejected a modern electric transit system in 1972. It was a 0.3% increase in sales tax.

In 1995, voters rejected a multi-county $6.5 billion dollar comprehensive transit plan.

An initiative was passed in 1997 to extend the monorail. People were evicted from their homes and businesses by eminent domain to make way for the new tracks. Then it stopped. Never happened.

In 2007, the South Lake Union street car line opens. It’s 1.3 miles long — that’s 6,864 feet. The train runs down the middle of the road. It can’t move when the tracks are blocked by cars that are trying to get through the untimed traffic lights we call the Mercer Mess.

Throw in the straightening of the S-Curves, bicycle lanes, and the Pronto bikeshare disaster, and you can see there have been a lot of failures.

So it seems that the current plan is to financially punish people with cars as much as possible. Whether it’s through exorbitant car tab fees, removal of reasonable street parking, or tolling on freeways and interstates — the message is clear. Politicians will continue to turn up the financial pain until you stop driving or move away.

Will congestion tolling be successful? Depends on how you define success. I find it ironic that we hear a constant drumbeat about affordability around here, and yet the answer to all our problems seems to be to make it more expensive. Especially if you drive a car.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

More from Ron Upshaw

Ron and Don

...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Ron and Don’s last show on KIRO Radio

Last night was Ron and Don’s last show on KIRO Radio.
3 years ago
Kelly Herzberg in her natural habitat. (Photo by Rachel Belle)...
Rachel Belle

In Seattle, a personal shopper and stylist who only shops at thrift stores

If you think you can't afford a personal stylist, head to the thrift store with Sweet Kelly Anne Styling's Kelly Herzberg who will pull hundreds of pieces for you to try on.
3 years ago
Viaduct waterfront...
Ron Upshaw

What do we do with the waterfront after the viaduct is gone?

After the viaduct is taken down, we'll be left with a choice: What do we do with one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the country?
3 years ago
(MyNorthwest)...
Ron Upshaw

Shower Thoughts: Ichiro can give Mariners fans something to root for

Rumor has it that Ichiro might make a comeback next year, and I for one welcome it.
3 years ago
Border wall...
Ron Upshaw

Trying to figure out why people want Trump’s border wall

A little over 40 percent of Americans now support the idea of a border wall, but what is it about it that seems so attractive?
3 years ago
Dan McCartney, Pierce County Sheriff...
Don O'Neill

Why you could hear kids’ voices on Pierce County Sheriff radios Monday night

Sometimes, "gone but not forgotten" isn't always how slain officers are remembered. But in Pierce County, a special effort is being made to commemorate a fallen deputy.
3 years ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Ron: A history of why Seattle traffic is so terribly bad