Transportation 2040: Toward a sustainable transportation system... or is it?

Join us at Transportation Choice's Friday Forum for a presentation by the Puget Sound Regional Council on the draft Transportation 2040 plan, followed by a panel discussion of stakeholders from around the region, including Cascade's Advocacy Director, David Hiller.  Public comments on the draft plan are due by Tuesday, March 9 to the PSRC. There will be an opportunity for you to submit your comments at the Friday Forum as well.

The Puget Sound Region (Kitsap, King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties) is expected to grow by roughly 1.5 million people in the next 30 years.  But don’t go running yet; fortunately we have an opportunity to help inform how the region prepares for this growth from a transportation perspective.  With this in mind, ask yourself (or your children), what do you want your neighborhood, city and region to look and function like in 30 years?  And what do you think the role of transportation should be?

Unfortunately, you don’t have much time to think about this.  The Puget Sound Regional Council has produced a Draft Transportation Plan (Transportation 2040), which is open for public comment until Tuesday, March 9. We are at a critical point in this discussion about what we should be prioritizing: is it moving more cars more efficiently, or is it moving more people more efficiently?

You may recall a Braking News that we sent out last summer encouraging you to provide input on the Transportation 2040 alternatives (at the time there were six alternatives).  We suggested that you pay particular attention to Alternative 5, the alternative with the greatest investment in nonmotorized transportation and transit, and, not surprisingly, the greatest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the highest increases in bicycling, walking and public transportation use.

As a result of this call to action, you sent 1,018 to PSRC, not only pushing them to adopt Alternative 5 but suggesting that they be even more aggressive about their commitment to climate change, bicycling and walking, and public health.

Unfortunately, the current preferred alternative fails to recognize the overwhelming public support for a more aggressive Alternative 5.  While the current plan preserves most of the non-motorized investment of Alternative 5, it also adds up to 950 new highway and arterial lane miles. Consequently, as compared to Alternative 5, projected vehicle miles traveled will be higher, the number of walking and biking trips will be lower and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be a far from meeting state law (unless of course, the majority of the region’s car fleet turns to electric by 2030).

We strongly encourage you, once again, to provide your input on the current Draft Plan. To save you hours combing through a several hundred-page document, here’s our quick take: it’s not aggressive enough.  

The Draft Plan provides a minimal investment in nonmotorized transportation, which doesn’t reflect the percentage of trips that are currently walk or bike or the demand there for.   It exacerbates the trend of adding new roadwaysIf fails to truly evaluate the impact of the proposed investments on the health of our communities. 

What’s more, the current preferred alternative only minimally responds to the overwhelming number of public comments that were submitted pushing for a more aggressive version of Alternative 5.

So in closing, with 55 percent of Americans saying they would prefer to walk more and drive less, and 25 percent of Washington’s population categorically obese, we have to ask ourselves, who are we planning for and how does Transportation 2040 accomplish this?

But have a look for yourself.  You can find the draft plan online at PSRC's website. Submit your comments online, in person, by fax or by mail.  Take a few minutes to tell PSRC what you want the region to look like in 30 years.

And please do leave comments letting us know what you think.