Yesterday afternoon on Daily Kos, progressive activist Wu Ming suggested that, in the wake of the failure of Interstate 5’s Skagit River crossing, which carries more than seventy thousand vehicles a day, it would be appropriate to give the span a new name: The Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge. Ming wrote:
As I watched the coverage of the Skagit River bridge collapse last night, this image came to me. Washingtonians are well familiar with Tim Eyman, Washington’s own Howard Jarvis equivalent and horse’s ass, who has been championing initiatives for decades to cut vehicle excise taxes and license registration fees, and generally defund state government and public infrastructure. In honor of his life’s work enabling the disinvestment in infrastructure that facilitated this bridge collapse, please feel free to share this image far and wide.
We would say dishonor, but otherwise, we concur with Wu. His idea makes sense. No one can drive on the bridge or use it, and that’s the fate that awaits all of our other public services if we don’t put a stop to Eyman’s destructive schemes — past, present, and future. So why not rename it after Eyman?
Wu illustrated his idea by captioning a picture of the failed span with the words “Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge”. The team at NPI figured, why not put a roadgeek spin on the meme? So I fired up Adobe Fireworks and put this together:
The photo is by WSDOT. The graphics are by NPI. Here’s a graphic only version:
The “Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge” is what engineers call a “fracture-critical” bridge. That means it has a single point of failure. The bridge actually predates the construction of I‑5; it was built in 1955 to carry Highway 99 over the Skagit River. The bridge wasn’t designed for the traffic volumes it used to handle until yesterday, but it has not been replaced because we have not been proactive in modernizing our infrastructure. There are hundreds of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges all over Washington that need replacing.
“Under current fiscal constraints, there is no intent at this point to rebuild the entire bridge.”
— Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, speaking to reporters at a press conference yesterday
Since 1999, Tim Eyman’s initiatives — and the Legislature’s reinstatement of some of Eyman’s initiatives — have wiped out billions in funding for public services, including ferries, highways, roads, bridges, and mass transit.
Eyman has also fought against pretty much every attempt to reverse the damage he has caused and invest in new transportation infrastructure.
He tried to kill Sound Transit’s Central Link in 2002 with I‑776 (which also repealed local vehicle fees in four counties that paid for county roads), opposed the nickel gas tax increase passed by the Legislature in 2003, and campaigned for I‑912, a 2005 initiative spearheaded by John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur that sought to gut the 2005 Transportation Package approved by lawmakers and Governor Gregoire.
Eyman subsequently tried to repeal funding for Amtrak Cascades and freight mobility the following year with I‑917, which narrowly missed the ballot due to his incompetence. (He collected signatures, but not quite enough). After I‑917 failed, Eyman campaigned against the Bridging the Gap levy in Seattle, but it passed.
If that weren’t enough, Eyman has tried on three occasions to mess with transportation planning. He proposed an initiative in 2000 (I‑745) to require that 90% of WSDOT’s budget be spent on roads. Voters rejected it.
In 2008, he proposed a similar measure (I‑985) which voters also rejected.
And two years ago, he tried to block Sound Transit’s East Link project and make variable tolling illegal with I‑1125. Voters rejected that as well.
There is no one in Washington who has done more to sabotage the effort to ensure the Evergreen State has good roads and safe bridges than Tim Eyman. Eyman has unequivocally earned the dishonor of having our state’s most prominent failed stretch of highway named after him. At least until it’s fixed or replaced.