Opinion

The best route to ease congestion

Traffic, what a nightmare! I dread my weekly trip in to Bellevue and, in fact, dread any driving west of Preston. Sometimes sitting in traffic on 148th in Bellevue, returning from my weekly Bellevue meeting, I look at the faces of those in traffic beside me and wonder how they can do it on a daily basis. Traffic and congestion costs millions of us hours each day. Hours we could be spending with our families is spent stressed to the max, and when we do finally get home, it sometimes can be an effort to spend some quality family time with our loved ones.

With that said, it's obvious that our traffic situation is to the point of meltdown, and is far past the broken stage. But never fear, we can pay more and make it better.

That's the answer to our ailments: voting for a transportation plan, or paying more for gas. But has the root of the problem been fixed? First, let's start with a top-to-bottom review of the Department of Transportation. Let's help them prioritize what we want done for roads. Why should anyone be asked to bail something out without full confidence that things will be fixed as best as possible?

Second, let's rethink growth management. That policy has done nothing more than to push development to more urban areas or in tight rural corridors. The result is no jobs near our houses, and to find a decent, liveable-wage job you have to drive 30 minutes. Bedroom communities are a direct result of growth management, in my opinion.

It's a vicious cycle: good-paying jobs are held in areas of denser population but the housing prices and quality of life force us to move to the suburbs. To pay for the house and maintain our quality of life we drive, and the consequences are clogged roads.

But regulations limit how companies build in the suburbs, and industrial or commercial land is hard to find if regulations can be overcome. In my opinion, its a no-win situation and no amount of gas taxes or roadway projects can fix it. The way to fix it is to get people out of the habit of commuting - move the jobs closer to where they live.

I almost feel like a teacher about to draw on a chalkboard. It is surprising how many people understand this, yet those wanting more money can only think in that way - more money.

The AF Evans Development Inc. project planned for North Bend, with the addition of 258 apartments, is really a good thing. The Valley needs more "affordable" housing, and since the project is slated for one of the last parcels of high-density property in North Bend, the owner has the right to pursue the project based on meeting all the conditions of development. But wouldn't it be interesting to add 258 liveable-wage jobs to the Valley at the same time as the apartments go up?

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