There are a number of ballot initiatives and ballot measures in both Washington and Oregon every year that are clearly the work of a few folks who are in the business of making up and presenting controversial measures for fun and profit.   Initiative 985 is another of those disgusting works, this one presented by serial initiative submitter Tim Eyman.  While the ballot title almost makes this measure sound like something that should be done, the details make this a ridiculous piece of legislation.

Section One of the I-985 would be really amusing,  if it were not an initiative that could become law.  It does not say what anyone should do, it is a couple of pages of dreams that are more of a sales pitch than an actual solution to anything.  It has such winners as “We should all be able to use the HOV lanes since we all paid for them.”  The law would demand that tow truck operators get more efficient about getting disabled cars off the road.  Sure, it all sounds good, until we realize that we actually have to do it.  Saying that something is so doesn’t make it so.

This initiative’s ballot title speaks of ideas like timing of traffic lights and opening lanes of traffic to all vehicles and how tolls should be used that at first glance make the measure look like something we need.  In fact, most of the concepts presented in the initiative are already being done by traffic engineers throughout our state.  However, these changes are being made in ways that make sense in the individual regions and to individual highways, not in some uniform way throughout the state that might not make sense in certain areas.  This measure will not save money.  It will only add unnecessary costs to a traffic system that needs to spend its scarce resources where they are needed.

The ideas presented will also not necessarily solve traffic congestion issues.  They will, in fact, cause traffic congestion to get worse.  While they may seem unfair to a single person sitting in a car in traffic, things like HOV lanes ad ramp signals do get more people to their destinations quicker than some of the alternatives.  Also, a plan like this that proposes to solve the state’s traffic problems by simply re-timing traffic signals and rearranging the cars on the highway will simply not work.  Getting people to use transit works to get both transit riders and auto drivers to their destinations quicker.  We are now well aware that adding more and more traffic lanes will not solve our traffic problems.  An initiative that proposes poorly-thought-out ideas will not help the situation, even if it sounds good in the ballot title and even if it (incorrectly) promises to help our traffic situation without cost to taxpayers.

A column by Floyd McKay in the Seattle Times
from April of this year is a “must read” for anyone wanting to find out the story on I-985. He goes into more of the specifics of why I-985 is such a bad idea.  You can find a list of some of the organizations that are against I-985 at this No on Initiative 985 site.  Another site with arguments against the measure is found here. While I like to see both sides of any issue, I cannot see any redeeming qualities about I-985, nor can I find any sources of information for now that are pro-I-985.

Vote NO on Washington Initiative 985.  There are much better solutions to our traffic problems now being done.  I-985 will accomplish nothing and cost us money.