Anybody who drives in the Puget Sound region knows what the folks at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) just figured out — drivers in our area suffer through some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. And according to WSDOT, it’s all due to a successful economy, not anything that WSDOT has, or hasn’t, done.
“Drivers can thank themselves for the worsening congestion. Between 2012 and 2014, passenger vehicle registrations increased 6.9 percent, according to WSDOT. Licensed drivers increased by 7.6 percent.”
If economic growth is truly to blame, couldn’t WSDOT and the Democrats controlling Olympia have been able to foresee such obvious resulting traffic jams and agreed to include congestion relief as part of our state’s transportation priorities, like Republicans proposed? Democrat lawmakers originally removed congestion relief as a funding priority for the state in 2007. They also created a list of six goals of transportation policy—congestion relief did not make the cut.
During the 2014 legislative session, Republican lawmakers in the state Senate attempted to remedy the state’s lack of consideration for Washington’s working families and growing businesses. They introduced a transportation plan that included “reducing transportation congestion” among the state’s transportation goals.
Unfortunately, Democrats, backed by extreme “green” transit groups with vested interests in ensuring that doesn’t happen, refused to participate in or support the plan.
Senate Republicans insisted WSDOT revise its priorities to include congestion relief as part of their transportation package this year. Democrats, finally, agreed to support congestion relief as a priority.
Of course, for drivers stuck in traffic, it’s a little too late.