Changing my vote on Sound Transit Prop 1

NOTE: The comments below are from the 2007 version of Proposition 1.  Haven’t yet learned much about the 2008 proposal, but hope to put my two cents’ worth in soon.  In the meantime, I’m interested in hearing what others are thinking.  Thanks!

November 3

One of our thoughtful neighbors insists that we have to start thinking and acting differently about transportation, and that Sound Transit Proposition 1’s plan to build more of the same – especially roads – doesn’t help us to do that. After reading and thinking and talking about it, I agree. If we believe that voting for an $18 billion package will take us off the transportation hook,   we’re in a dreamworld. The principal fantasy is that we – that’s you and me as individuals – don’t have to change our behavior in order to solve gridlock and its nasty offshoots.

Does that imply that you and I are not off the hook because we have a responsibility for our choices about the ways that we live? Afraid so. How very inconvenient to have the big old transportation issue now sitting squarely in front of little old me.

Do the actions of one person make a difference? You bet they do. Don’t forget that enough ‘one persons’ voting (or not voting) can put someone like George W. Bush in the White House. Think that’s made a difference? Mama mia. Fool me once… Alright, then – what can one person do?

I like humble beginnings, low entry thresholds, things in which I can experience a measure of initial success – helps to get some momentum going. So let’s start small. Carpool to soccer practice and games. Combine multiple errands into one trip. Pick one activity or destination and walk or bike or take the bus instead of driving. Shop with a neighbor. If we haven’t already started, taking ‘little’ steps like these can help us get the ball rolling.

But the ‘little’ things quickly point us toward much bigger considerations such as:

  • Walking or biking or riding the bus requires more time; I’ll need to unpack my schedule enough so I’m not always racing to get somewhere.
  • Carpooling and shopping with others brings me face to face with neighbors and mixes us up in each others’ lives. Getting to know the people living around me adds some substance to my talk about community.
  • Instead of ferrying kids from one activity to the next, we can hang out with them, read, go for walks, play games, listen to each other, or even do nothing. Good chance we’ll all be healthier as a result.
  • Avoiding gridlocked traffic might get me thinking about where I live relative to where I work.

These are just a couple of big, potentially life-altering possibilities. We might not want to ask such questions, or maybe we figure we don’t have to ask them. But we have made ourselves a colossal mess that defies easy solutions. We have built a whole way of life around being able to hop in a car and go wherever we want whenever we want, and it’s slowly but surely grinding to a halt. It’s uncomfortable to face the fact that I’m either a part of the problem or part of the solution, but this one seems clear and unavoidable.

Looks to me like voting for Prop 1 fits the definition of insanity – doing the same thing again and again but expecting the outcome to be different. It’s not working, and I’m not crazy: I’m voting NO.

November 1

My first response to Prop 1 is “aaaaarghhh!”

I’ve been leaning against it because it does not address some big items (like the Alaskan Way viaduct – I live in West Seattle), and because of the emphasis on roads. I also see one BIG caveat:

I remember when voters rejected a rail transit plan in 1967 and defeated two mass transportation plans (Forward Thrust) in 1968 and again in 1970. Look at this brief outline of transportation decisions in Seattle’s history. It shows how many times we have turned down opportunities to upgrade our region’s transportation systems. I also remember that it took 30 years(!) to complete the last few miles of I-90 into Seattle due to property disputes and an incomplete EIS. The Forward Thrust proposal was for $1.15 billion to build 47 miles of rail lines; by 1992 it cost $1.2 billion to build the last mile of I-90. The cost of delays has been astronomical in dollars, gridlock, and opportunities to have a system in place that we could now be extending instead of beginning.

So what’s the solution? Very interested in hearing what reasonable people think about it.

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3 responses to “Changing my vote on Sound Transit Prop 1

  1. very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  2. Check out 2008’s Prop 1, no more dirty roads: http://www.masstransitnow.org

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