GRIDLOCK, ROAD RAGE, businesses fleeing the state . . . Washington's transportation problems have become a full-blown crisis. Now Gov. Gary Locke and the state Legislature think they have the solution: Referendum 51 (R-51). For a mere $7.7 billion in new gasoline taxes, R-51 will, according to the guv, fight traffic congestion, target transportation dollars, attack key choke points statewide, and give everyone their own personal jet pack.
OK, I made up that last part, but Locke's actual claims aren't much more realistic. In order to deal with the real transportation problems, we must invest wisely. R-51 spends 85 percent of its $7.7 billion on new roads, leaving a scant 15 percent for alternatives to the single occupancy vehicle: transit, HOV lanes, car pools, trip reduction programs, and the like. R-51 will fund 34 highway projects around the state that do nothing but increase general-purpose capacity. In other words, it pours billions into what we already know doesn't work—a recipe for more sprawl, more pollution, and more congestion.
What about the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, you ask? Don't we have to vote for R-51 in order to replace that tottering structure? Erica C. Barnett takes a look at the specifics of R-51 when it comes to the viaduct and finds it wanting. She also exposes R-51's road hog—the expansion of Interstate 405. Kevin Fullerton focuses on R-51's effect on the replacement for the 520 bridge, which he used to commute across, and draws some surprising conclusions. Geov Parrish argues that the rest of us should get out of the house more often and realize that more pavement is a necessary evil. Finally, on a designated road trip day, three of us took to these highways at rush hour to get right into the traffic and see how it feels.
GEORGE HOWLAND JR.
The $10 billion question
The current plan to widen I-405 won't reduce traffic, costs too much, and will savage the environment. by Erica C. Barnett
Small is beautiful
The 520 bridge's problems can't be solved by construction alone. by Kevin Fullerton
The Alaskan Way Viaduct must be replaced. Is Referendum 51 a good start? by Erica C. Barnett
Washington needs more road capacity, now. by Geov Parrish
I can't drive 405
Road Trip #1 by Erica C. Barnett
Road Trip #2 by Kevin Fullerton
Ode to elevation
Road Trip #3 by George Howland Jr.