Opinion

Is more development the solution to traffic woes?

Two recent proposals a branch campus of the University of Washington in Lakewood and a Community Transit transit center in Smokey Point are being touted as a possible impetus for a solution to the traffic woes in the Lakewood and Smokey Point areas.
The proposed UW branch campus would be located south of the Lakewood Crossing development and the transit center would be located at 169th Street on Smokey Point Boulevard both areas already reeling from the traffic congestion caused by recent development. And the problem will only get worse as the Lakewood Crossing development continues and 13,000 daily car trips are added on 172nd when a proposed Wal-Mart is completed.
Proponents of the proposals tout their benefits and argue that they would cause only a nominal increase in traffic while serving as a driving force in getting a freeway overpass or interchange built on I-5. Opponents arent buying into the argument that more development is the solution to the traffic congestion in the area and the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce has put forward it own proposal for the location of CTs transit center while residents in the Lakewood area are still waiting for a promised free-right-turn lane onto I-5.
Both proposals have merit and would be assets to our communities but the Build it and they will come attitude toward development and traffic improvements may be overly optimistic as our neighbors to the south have learned.
Due to a Bothell city ordinance, UW Bothell and Cascadia Community College must construct a south access to the campus from SR 522 in order to grow from 3,000 to 10,000 full-time students. The project has been under discussion for almost a decade and was slated to begin construction in 2006. However, the project design had to be modified due to ground water issues and there is now a $6 million shortfall in funding (the project has already secured $39.5 million in funding) that must be secured to finance the project. So how can we argue for funding for transportation fixes for a proposed new branch campus when the existing branch campus is facing a funding shortfall for the fix to its transportation problem?
While it would take years for either of the proposals to be built, it would also take years for any transportation solution to be approved, designed, funded and constructed. Transportation funding has always been a fickle thing, almost as undependable as it is unpredictable. For either project to move forward, they must include concrete solutions to the transportation issues, not simply a hope that they will increase the likelihood of a solution. For our elected officials to do anything else would be a great disservice to the residents and businesses which call our communities home.

STF

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