Thursday, March 17, 2005

A rational alternative to Light Rail.

Light Rail is a disaster.

In Portland, Light Rail construction was months over schedule and millions over budget. Ridership has yet to approach the projected (aka lies used to justify construction) levels.

In Seattle, voters approved a 21 mile, $2.2 billion Light Rail project that has now “grown” to a 14 mile, $4 Billion project, a bait-and-switch by government that the state Supreme Court found perfectly OK. (One aficionado in the region has coined the phrase “Loot Rail.”) Sound Transit Light Rail supporters PROMISED they would not require state funds for their little project. That was the reason the legislature gave them authority to raise these funds in the first place.

They lied.

In Vancouver, Light Rail lost county-wide, roughly 70% to 30%. Eight million dollars was wasted on a fake consultation that rubber-stamped Identity Vancouver’s “The-only-light-rail-route-that-will-work-is-through-the-I-5-corridor” nonsense. Directly after the destruction of their plan, lobbyists came back up to Olympia to beg for an ADDITIONAL $8 million to do ANOTHER study. I suggested that they get a refund from the first firm that had ripped them off.

The Light Rail disease is firmly entrenched in the lesser lights of Vancouver. Along with other bizarre, absurd and ridiculous ideas such as putting tolls on the two interstate bridges to support City of Vancouver transportation projects, light rail continues to hang around in the feverish minds of those who support the idea of ramming tax increases of all kinds down our collective throats without our permission and failing that, going so far as to bring suit against their own citizenry to KEEP them from expressing an opinion.

The FACT is that LIGHT RAIL DOES NOT WORK. The most recent rating of traffic congestion indicates that Portland, with an extensive light rail system, has WORSE traffic congestion than Seattle, which hasn’t put a foot of light rail into operation! Sound Transit, in a fit of sobriety a few years back, ADMITTED that the completed, $4 BILLION light rail line will have NO impact on congestion!

Which tends to beg the question: why are they building it?

If light rail made a difference, I could support it. But the facts are in and the only difference it makes is in our wallets and those of the unions and contractors that would build this thing… hardly harbingers of what’s best for us… over what’s best for them.

Ted Van Dyke lays out a column concerning the Discovery Center's take on the transportation issue, a rational and well-explained alternative. Worth a read.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

We're on the wrong road for traffic fixes

Unnoted by the general media, the Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center conducted a highly informative two-day leadership forum late last month at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond. It attracted transportation policy-makers and professionals from the United States, Canada and all levels of government and covered the full range of issues facing both the West Coast and our own neighborhood.

The conference proceedings, if read and heeded by local officials, would alter drastically the transportation priorities and projects being pursued here. So, for that matter, would the report presented earlier in February to Gov. Christine Gregoire and legislative leaders by the Cascadia Center's Transportation Working Group.

To read the Cascadia/Microsoft conference proceedings, or the working group report, is to enter a realm of transportation rationality contrasting with the absurd realm in which we live. Multibillion-dollar public works mistakes are generating red ink and eroding public confidence in all proposals involving new transportation expenditures. Yet, four years after the Nisqually quake, state and local officials do not have an approved plan or money to replace or repair the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Evergreen Point Bridge and other dangerous local bridges, roads and highways.


1 comment:

Brent from Vancouver said...

Did they ask the taxpayers in Seattle? In Portland they asked, people said NO and they built it anyway. In Vancouver they asked, people said NO and they have not built it, YET. Some of the Interstate bridge task force notes lead me to believe there will be a BIG push for it if they ever try to fix the interstate traffic situation. I'm definatley leaving if they do it.