James Vesely has 1500 words in the Seattle Times this morning on the ST2/RTID rail and roads proposal, and as I breathlessly slogged through it, I couldn’t quite figure out exactly where Vesely stood.
Then, in the very last sentence: “Consider the $18.9 billion a sin tax.”
We seem to like sin taxes in Washington state. So… um… I guess that means Vesely supports the proposal?
Don’t get me wrong, Vesely presents a useful discussion of our region’s woeful history of transportation planning (or lack thereof,) but while he criticizes “the way decisions are made about roads and transit” his rather thoughtful internal dialogue is in fact a perfect example of the sort of endless deliberation and second-guessing that has killed regional transportation projects for decades.
A concluding estimate of costs and benefits written by the sages over at Sound Transit poses unanswerable questions framed as answers, but they are not. The report cites as benefits questions such as, “What is the value of a human life saved from a needless traffic accident? What is the value of having the contribution of senior citizens in community activities?” These and other epistolary questions are, again, about the sins of our fathers in doing so little for 30 years.
The ST2/RTID plan is far from perfect, and includes funding for plenty of projects whose justification relies more on politics than smart transportation planning. But should it collapse, how long will it be before the region reaches a consensus on building the transit infrastructure we should have started constructing thirty years ago?
Sins of our fathers? Sure. And on this Father’s Day it is important to remember that we are fathers too, and if we do nothing, future generations will look back just as critically on our inability — or unwillingness — to plan for the future.