Not much time to post today, unfortunately, but this struck me as nuts.
In a transportation plan released Tuesday, [Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino] Rossi calls for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, building a new Highway 520 floating bridge that could ultimately hold eight lanes of traffic, and building a four-lane, six-mile highway from Interstate 5 to Highway 7 in Pierce County.
Nobody’s ever accused me of being very good at reading the political tea leaves. But didn’t a big Puget Sound road building package just go down to massive defeat at the polls last year? Didn’t Seattle voters reject a tunnel, too? Maybe Rossi’s campaign isn’t targeting the “no” voters, but it seems like this sort of road-building binge has a much, much narrower political appeal in western Washington—and generates way more opposition—than it used to.
And worse: hasn’t just about every big-ticket transportation proposal been stung by massive increases in cost projections—making the proponents look a bit out-of-touch? To my eyes, this proposal looks particularly vulnerable on that score:
Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington state Transportation Center at the University of Washington, said Rossi’s numbers are “completely divorced from reality.”
“He lowballs almost all the estimates and never says where all the funds are going to come from. It’s a political statement. It’s complete silliness,” Hallenbeck said.
Hallenback’s purty darn credible in my book; and yes, I agree, the cost estimates look way too low.
It’s obviously very early in the campaign; and politicians change their positions all the time. So this is likely an opening gambit in a longer conversation about transportation that’ll rumble throughout the upcoming election cycle. But even disregarding the problems of global warming, and the fact that oil dependence siphoned $10.5 billion from the state’s economy last year, and the massive human and economic toll of car crashes—it’s hard to see how pie-in-the-sky promises on roads add up to smart politics.