Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I-912 is bad for traffic safety

Yesterday, I noticed a story in the Skagit Valley Herald entitled, "Injured parents lost son in crash" and forwarded the story on to David Goldstein of, who I was sure would pick up on the story and its importance. He didn't disappoint me.

The story, essentially, is this: Last Friday there was a three-car collision on Interstate 5 near Highway 534 that killed 2 people (including a 10 year old child) and seriously injured several others. A vehicle traveling southbound collided into another also going south, then that same vehicle caromed across the median and hit a car going northbound.

The second collision was entirely preventable - and a project that would install a cable barrier in the median to prevent such collisions is being funded by the new 2005 transportation package that anti-tax zealots like Wilbur and Carlson want repealed.

Anyway, here's part of what David said:
The projects in the transportation bill that I-912 would kill were prioritized by safety, and the cable barrier along this stretch of I-5 is just one of hundreds of similar safety improvement projects scattered throughout the state. If we repeal the gas tax, and these projects are delayed or canceled, people will die. The crash data tells us that, and this tragic accident bears out the data’s predictions. That is a fact.

I-912’s backers claim that the transportation bill doesn’t do enough to solve congestion… that is doesn’t pour enough new concrete. But I believe that if most voters understood what the gas tax increase actually pays for, they’d agree that it’s the transportation package that has its priorities straight, not Kirby and John and the rest of the message senders, who ask voters to sacrifice desperately needed maintenance and improvements for the sake of sticking it to Gov. Gregoire and the Democrat controlled Legislature.

The former-residents of New Orleans – now refugees from our nation’s worst man-made disaster – have learned the cost in lives and dollars of failing to adequately invest in public infrastructure; surely, had the levees been higher and stronger, the surrounding wetlands restored, and the barrier islands rebuilt, then the cataclysmic flooding could have been avoided. If we choose to ignore this lesson, perhaps the Big One won’t strike… perhaps the 520 bridge won’t sink into the lake, nor the Alaska Way Viaduct topple over onto the waterfront and its aging seawall, causing hundreds of deaths and tens of billions of dollars in damage.


If the public understands exactly what the gas tax pays for, and how the transportation package was expressly prioritized to save lives, then I believe that I-912 will fail.


Levi Pulkkinen and Marta Murvosh of the the Skagit Valley Herald should be commended for doing the kind of journalism often missing from some of our more prestigious newspapers… for digging into the details and reporting Friday’s fatal accident not just as a human tragedy, but as the predictable consequence of how we choose to spend our transportation dollars.
Well said. The challenge is on to show voters what the real stakes are.

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