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Opinion: Washington State Should Stop Funding Freeways

The Urbanist's editorial board calls for an end to highway widening and an increased focus on walking, biking, and transit.
March 30, 2021, 8am PDT | Diana Ionescu | @aworkoffiction
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Washington State Dept of Transportation

The editorial board of The Urbanist joins a "clarion call led by the Disability Mobility Initiative and the Front and Centered Coalition: Washington State must cease spending on new highways." In an editorial published on March 18, the board cites "more pressing needs" for the state "around making our roads safe for people walking, rolling, and biking and boosting transit service to lower climate emissions" and avoid a "climate death spiral."

The board criticizes three transportation and infrastructure proposals currently in the Washington state legislature, particularly Senator Steve Hobbs' "Forward Washington" package, which, according to the authors, "in particular represents the wrong approach. The project list is heavily weighted toward highway widening." While "Governor Inslee emphasized a maintenance-first approach…he also highlighted the need for highway expansion projects." The editorial argues that "adding lanes and interchanges is clearly an expansion of highway infrastructure even if it’s dressed up with tolling or carpool lanes." Maintenance is important, but "what does maintenance first mean if billions and billions more dollars are invested in highway expansion?"

According to the authors, Washington should prioritize different strategies to meet its climate change and transportation goals. "Until our state can meet its climate goals and its Vision Zero pledge to end traffic deaths, adding more highway capacity would only be doubling down on a failing strategy and welcoming more carnage."

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Published on Friday, March 26, 2021 in The Urbanist
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