One might expect a transportation bill to propose new roads or enlargement of already existing roads, in an effort to help decrease the ever-increasing roadway traffic in Washington State. According to this new bill, Washington state can no longer build itself out of congestion and expanding roadways is not the right path to clearing up traffic.
Sponsor Rep. Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham) explains that expanding roadways is not a solid, long-term approach to solving congestion.
“There’s some research that came out in 2011 that basically says, ‘if you build it, they will come,” Shewmake said. “For every 1 percent increase we get in road capacity, we see a 1 percent increase in traffic. So, we keep building more and more lanes to combat congestion and, especially if we do it in a haphazard manner, we’re gonna keep on having more and more congestion.”
This is a concept known as induced demand, meaning that whenever we build out, roads quickly clog up because it’s nature of expansion as buildings and communities grow around them.
Rep. Shewmake hopes to take a new “holistic” approach with House Bill 2688, which would remove “congestion relief” and “improved freight mobility” as a transportation goal. It would instead focus on accessibility, safety, environment and climate, healthy and resilience, equity and environmental justice, preservation, and functionality.
There are those that support this bill and those that are against this bill. Since this bill is currently only in the second stage in the process of a bill becoming law, it still remains to be seen whether this bill will pass the house and move on to the Senate.