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Night of the Living Highway Extension

Tacoma resident Evan Siroky got a rude reminder of what's in
Washington State DOT's project pipeline yesterday, reading in the local
paper that officials are looking to revive
plans to extend state route 167 as a limited access highway
. The
new highway segment would reach the Port of Tacoma, and Siroky writes on
member blog Tacoma
that it's being sold, in part, as a boon for freight
movement, though most of its impact will be to induce more driving and

To say that this project has been "revived" isn't quite the right
way to put it, though. The idea never really died, despite a $2 billion
pricetag that can only be partially offset by tolling the new roadway.
It has sat in the pipeline as the state DOT has gone about amassing
property along the right-of-way. The fact that the highway extension
seems to be gaining momentum now, at a time when local transit agencies may
be forced to cut service to the bone
, speaks to a problem at many
state DOTs: When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a
nail. Siroky writes:

State DOT proposes to build this interchange linking an extension of
SR167 to I-5.

Our very own Port of Tacoma is probably one of
the biggest boosters for
this highway project. They see the project as a way to increase freight
accessibility to and from the Port with all the industrial development
along SR 167. Sure it would help decrease travel times maybe 5
minutes, but still, this project would be almost exclusively for
personal vehicle travel.

Overall, it's just saddening to me that
our state continues with these new highway projects. Do we really want
to keep building these highway
monstrosities while leaving transit systems out
to die
Maybe most of the people in our state do want more highways. WSDOT is
after all governed by state law requiring all gas taxes to be spent
on only highways
and the public has voted numerous times to
increase our state gas tax. Want more highways? Do nothing!

I think we have enough highways and should be spending our money on
sexier projects like extending Tacoma Link, making Pierce Transit
better and improving Amtrak Cascades... These highway
projects will only continue to promote what today are unsustainable
automobiles and promote development of land in suburbia.

Elsewhere around the Network: Smart
Growth America
applauds the passage of a "Sustainable Communities
Task Force" bill in North Carolina. Greater
Greater Washington
and the Bike-Sharing
map where 100 new bike-share stations will be located in the
nation's capital. And M-Bike
tracks the progress of a complete streets bill in the Michigan

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