The Times endorses
A region on the move should vote no on I-912
Initiative 912, which torpedoes badly needed road, bridge-safety and mobility improvements across the state, requires voters to think carefully...
Initiative 912, which torpedoes badly needed road, bridge-safety and mobility improvements across the state, requires voters to think carefully and then vote "no."
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, voters ought to consider the long-term interest and turn down a shortsighted proposal, which irresponsibly rolls back a 9.5-cent gas-tax increase approved by the Legislature. I-912 is classic instant gratification for a community given plenty of warning about roads, bridges and earthquake preparedness.
Putting off until tomorrow what should be done today on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Highway 520 bridge is akin to what New Orleans did by not shoring up levees.
Replacing the viaduct, the state's most vulnerable roadway, made sense before Katrina slammed into the Gulf. Getting the ball rolling on Highway 520 was prudent before the hurricane hit. Increasing capacity and improving safety on numerous roads and bridges statewide is the responsible course. The cost of these projects only goes up over time.
If I-912 passes, $2 billion to rebuild the viaduct goes away, as does $500 million to begin fixing Highway 520 and nearly $1 billion to ease choke points on Interstate 405.
Citizens have a responsibility to build for the future. Planned improvements include widening U.S. Highway 12 between Walla Walla and Tri Cities, replacing a dangerous, two-lane roadway with four lanes. The money also would enhance intersections on heavily congested Highway 9, a crucial north-south route in rapidly growing Snohomish County, and add capacity to Interstate 5 at Highway 16 in Pierce County.
Higher gas prices hurt all of us — businesses, farms and individuals. But passing I-912 may not noticeably reduce the price of anything. Only 3 cents of the 9.5-cent increase is currently in effect. There is no guarantee gas prices will seem much lower.
Our state is livable because preceding generations invested in infrastructure. Upgraded roads and bridges are essential to moving goods and people around the region.
Voters ought to consider and reconsider I-912, then vote "no" on an irresponsible, backward measure.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.