Over the last few weeks, more and more voters have been taking a closer look at Initiative 985… and they don’t like what they see.
Sponsored by Washington’s version of Grover Norquist, Initiative 985 is a recipe for transportation disaster. If enacted, the measure would open high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour in Puget Sound, paralyzing the bus system, slowing emergency response vehicles, and potentially forcing the closure of federally funded transit access ramps on highways.
(I-985 would also steal hundreds of millions of dollars away from the general fund, which pays for our schools and first responders, making our state’s projected deficit far worse and canceling some of the savings implemented by Governor Chris Gregoire).
Several weeks ago, the Seattle Times reported: “Eyman is so certain voters will approve the initiative in November’s election he’s planning a ‘Freedom Drive’ on Dec. 4 with a sign on his pickup saying, ‘Drive in this lane. You paid for it.'”
In the event that Initiative 985 is approved and takes effect – which remains a possibility, albeit one that has been diminishing in likelihood with every passing day – the Permanent Defense team challenges sponsor Tim Eyman and his cohorts to reschedule their convoy for the next day – December 5th, 2008, at 6 PM, on SR 520 in Bellevue.
That’s when the westbound carpool lane, restricted today to vehicles carrying three or more people, would be open to everyone – and subequently filled.
During the middle of rush hour.
If Tim Eyman and his friends accept our challenge, we promise to show up to provide publicity. We would be more than happy to station ourselves on the pedestrian overpass near Evergreen Point and take video/pictures of Eyman’s convoy as it waits in the infamous Lake Washington Line, crawling towards the water.
Though it would be cold and dark, we would have our cameras ready as Eyman’s pickup slowly rolled under us, foot by foot, trapped behind a packed Sound Transit bus that’s running behind schedule because it’s been stuck in traffic.
For that is the future of the commute for thousands of people in Puget Sound who are certain to end up spending more time in their cars and less time with their families if Initiative 985 passes and takes effect.
We urge voters to reject that future, and reject Tim Eyman’s selfish, thoughtless, me-first approach to public policy. Our high occupancy vehicle lanes – like the parking spaces we’ve set aside for disabled Americans – are a valuable resource that encourages people to commute together. Taking that resource away would unfairly punish people who are already doing their part to reduce gridlock.
Just as it wouldn’t make sense to open federally-mandated parking spaces for the disabled to everyone most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to allow solo drivers to use our HOV system during Tim Eyman’s incorrect definition of “off peak hours”.
It would be tantamount to paying people to drive.
Traffic is already bad enough. Our projected budget deficit is already bad enough. And our schools are already underfunded.
Washington State just can’t afford Initiative 985.