Are we on the right track?

While sitting stuck fast in traffic on I-405, it’s easy to sympathize with Connie Lewis’ frustration with the transportation mess that is today’s Puget Sound traffic (“Sound Transit audits: Time to build system,” Letters, Sept. 18). However, anyone who has been paying taxes for more than a few minutes should take a cleansing breath before pushing blindly on with Sound Transit’s plan.

Ms. Lewis’ letter drips with the often-used do-something-do-anything provocation so often used to stampede an overwrought public into doing something precipitous. Sound Transit wants you to spend billions over decades to obtain something whimsically termed “choice.” Perhaps we’ll feel better knowing we’re spending all that money to achieve choice. Feelings aside, lurching forward without a results-based plan may well leave us still collectively stuck in traffic, poorer and more frustrated. Exhibit A: Los Angeles.

Choice might, after careful analysis, prove to be part solution. I can’t tell. Apparently, neither can anyone at Sound Transit. We might end up with a choice of various transportation means, all similarly gridlocked. That’s not a choice I want to pay for. What’s needed is a pay-as-you-go, phased transportation plan with measurable benefit – improved traffic flow – at each and every phase. Since we taxpayers are paying the freight (no pun intended), we can and must insist on getting real results for our time and money. That’s not too much to ask. We do so in our financial lives every day.

Let’s not be panicked into billions of dollars and decades of time to achieve – nothing. No good tries are acceptable. No “at least we’re doing something” nonesense. No moral victories. The stakes are too high. Let’s not find ourselves looking back in 2010 or 2015 wondering what we were thinking in 2000. No one will remember today’s cliches then.


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