Tim Eyeman and his group “Voter’s Want More Choices” are the main backers of Initiative 985. Initially I was hoping to analyze the initiative’s main website ‘reducecongestion.org‘ but until recently, the website was down (it now redirects back to the VWMC website). In its absence I was able to find an article Eyeman wrote in support of this initiative.
Eyeman’s article from the Everett Herald published 10/12/2008, made some interesting claims regarding the reasons I-985 should be supported. Here are four of them.
1. “Sonntag’s report on reducing congestion made 22 recommendations — Olympia ignored all of them. I-985 implements common sense reforms based on recommendations from Sonntag’s thorough investigation.”
–True. Sonntag identified 22 recommendations; however I 985 only addresses two of these recommendations, Coordination of Traffic lights in the region and faster incident response.
Furthermore, I-985’s central idea, open HOV lanes to SOV during off peak hours is in direct contradiction to Sonntag’s report, which suggested the HOV lanes be converted to HOT lanes for single occupancy drivers who wish to pay ‘Congestion Pricing’.
2. “Requiring local governments to synchronize traffic lights on heavily-traveled arterials and streets — this single reform reduces traffic congestion 6-7 percent.”
–This is true in so far as it was suggested by the State Auditor’s report
3. “Opening carpool lanes to everyone during non-peak hours — it’s what other states do and illustrates that increased capacity reduces congestion.”
–This claim is confusing. According to the Federal Highway Commission website, 6 states operate HOV facilities during ‘variable hours’, however 2 of these states include metered ramps in this report. Washington state already utilizes metered ramps during peak hours only so this benefit is already being realized. More importantly none of the states listed in the FHC report define set hours of operation, opting instead to operate during “peak periods”.
The measure would define the term “peak hours” to include the hours between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and the hours between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. All other hours would be defined as “non-peak hours.”
These defined hours may or may not represent the hours congestion is at its worst.
4. “But rather than embracing Sonntag’s reform recommendations, Olympia keeps ignoring them.”
–Again, this is misleading; Sonntag’s report was issued on October 10th 2007 and according to it, several of the recommendations are set to be addressed during the 2009 legislative session. Olympia hasn’t had time to adequately address all the recommendations.