When the Sierra Club sends me press releases decrying the “Roads” part of the “Roads and Transit” package, I sympathize. They see only the worst in the package. For example, they don’t see that a “yes” vote on “Roads and Transit” will build more light rail in the Seattle region than currently exists in Portland, Oregon. They don’t see the huge investment in HOV lanes that will make riding a bus in the suburbs quick and easy. They don’t see how RTID’s investment in Seattle streets will make possible the “Surface + Transit” viaduct replacement plan. And if anyone should understand that last item, it’s the Sierra Club. They, after all, were one of the first environmental groups to support the “Surface + Transit” plan.
It took years to get this package to the voters. If “Roads and Transit” goes down this November, don’t expect to see anything back on the ballot anytime soon. And what makes the Sierra Club (or Josh Feit for that matter) so confident that the next package will be any better than the current one? Count on the next measure to include far less rail and more buses. Money that would have replaced the South Park bridge or expanded the Spokane Street Viaduct will be shifted to replacing 520 and widening 405. Without roads investment, the “Surface + Transit” plan is toast. The ultimate irony would be if the Sierra Club’s campaign against the “Roads and Transit” package actually resulted in the building of another Alaskan Way Viaduct.
There is one upside for the Sierra Club concerning the viaduct. At least they’ll be able to get to their Interbay office that much quicker.