Thursday, September 20, 2007

Transportation Summit

I went to a Inland NW Transportation Summit for a bit this morning. Yow. A look at the "sponsored by" sign and it's obvious these folks are not the bike facilities types.

In fact, a couple times speakers (including the Deputy Assitant Secretary, US DOT -- Robert DeHaan) talked about "getting real results... not wasting money on bike paths..." Kudos to Gordon Black, Director of BAW, who called out the Deputy on the error of his ways, not to mention his logic; which went basically like this: "bike facilities are a waste of money when it comes to relieving congestion. No one rides a bike, no one is going to ride a bike. It's too dangerous and there are no bike paths..." I wish I were making that up.

The basic thrust of the conference was: how can we find more money to build more giant transportation/freight projects so we can move stuff all over the world? It was sort of surreal to sit in a room with 200+ people who all believe that it's a good thing that when you go to McDonalds in South Korea, the fries you're eating are from Washington. That such an unsustainable model, completely reliant on cheap oil is something we should all be rallying behind and finding gobs and gobs of money to build out. It would be interesting for Maddie to watch this conference on a DVD when she's my age.

I stuck around for the "Personal Mobility" break-out session, hoping to find some talk about cycling or at least mass transit. The first 40 minutes was "how do we find money for the N/S freeway." Apparently, the project is broke. It needs like $150 million/year for the next 20 years to finish it. There was a lot of hand-wringing and carrying-on about how important this corridor is for Spokane and the economy and it's bigger than Spokane: it's regional! And it has a bike path baked into it! I had my hand raised to suggest making it a toll road, but there were a lot of heavies in the room (Chris Marr, Gregoire's assistant, Alex Wood, some cranky Republican who suggested -- of course -- privatizing it and taking the "Seattle Ferry money" to fund our freeway) so I was not called upon. The last guy they called on did suggest tolls.

That was it for me. I think they went on to talk about the potential for light rail b/t Spokane and CdA, but I'd had enough. I'm just not cut out for the frustration that is hand-wavey "input." I took off and took a nice ride down Sprague, went to Vien Dong's and picked up lunch, and ate with Jon Snyder in his office.

1 comment:

bleckb said...

No doubt it's an uphill battle, damn near flogging a dead horse, or so it seems at times. It sometimes doesn't seem about workable transportation, but the jobs that huge construction jobs create, and the money to influence the creation of those jobs coming from the Acme Cements of the world.