The “all-transit-all-the-time” folks who dominate Seattle politics, and who find a welcome mat whenever they peddle their opinions to the lefty blog PubliCola, have decided to attack certain legislative Democrats for “giving in to road rage.” Why? These Democrats dared to make an attempt to appease constituents feeling the pain of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) I-405 tolling scheme.
According to reports, Democrat House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn — who has blocked a GOP-led bipartisan attempt to fix the tolling scheme —appears to have realized that it would be unwise to completely ignore her angry constituents. So, along with other Democrats, the state lawmakers now say “they’re ready to open the Interstate 405 express toll lanes to general traffic during nights, weekends and holidays — for free.”
A group of Democrats lawmakers signed a letter to WSDOT asking for many of the same changes originally requested in the bi-partisan bill introduced by Republicans. Curiously enough, though they clearly stole many of the fixes, Democrats completely left Republicans out of the process. And, though it’s a step, Clibborn’s “concession” doesn’t go far enough. Via the Seattle Times,
“The reprieve wouldn’t address the worst hours of commuter congestion. Nor would it untangle the Bothell bottleneck where the freeway shrinks from five total lanes to three, continuing north to Lynnwood.”
Clibborn still refuses to even allow a vote on the bi-partisan bill that proposes to convert one of the two tolled lanes from Bothell to Bellevue into full-time general-purpose use. Clibborn’s rather ineffective changes would, at best, “avert some slowdowns on weekends, when drivers are more reluctant to escape the clogged general lanes by paying a toll.”
GOP state Senator Andy Hill responded to Clibborn’s frail attempt at covering her party’s political backside by pointing out the fact that the I-405 tolls “are for a two-year pilot period” and that it is “lawmakers and not the Washington State Department of Transportation will judge whether tolls are successful enough to continue.” In other words, these are issues that need to be addressed by lawmakers, not the agency that created the problem in the first place.