Opinion

Transportation funding is really PSRC’s hammer

Sound Off is a public forum. Opinions are selected from letters to the editor or may be written specifically for this feature. Today, Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners (KAPO) president Karl Duff, a Port Orchard resident, argues that the Puget Sound Regional Council, in which Kitsap County participates is a environmental extremist organization that has as its goal restricting your freedom to drive your own automobile.

Because of federal and state funding associated with transportation projects in Washington state, transportation planning has a dual impact on all policy development.

Planning is first directed toward accomplishment of the overall environmental and development goals. Then the Puget Sound Regional Council — of which Kitsap County is a member, but with little or no influence — invokes a funding priority scheme that favors those in compliance with its “Vision 2040” objectives.

Because Kitsap’s actual transportation funding over the past 10 years is also a relevant subject of interest, the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners is conducting a separate review and report of that issue, to include both the funding sources and their actual application and funding.

The Vision 2040 strategy and priorities are directed toward nothing less than eliminating the automobile as a common means of transportation and forcing use of mass transit.

The strategy contains statements such as:

• strategies that reduce demand for drive-alone travel will continue to become even more important in the future; and,

• demand management reduces the rate of growth – as well as the overall number – of people driving alone. This results in less traffic congestion, fewer vehicle emissions, and less fuel consumption.

In the context of these strategies, there is no mention of civic or personal preference or time impact on those who will be forced to “choose” mass transit as the right answer to their commute needs.

No doubt there are people potentially interested in providing their own views in these matters. There is no provision for this in Vision 2040.

Vision 2040 transportation arguments and tactics involve both financial coercion, tax redistribution and environmental idealogy that is no longer scientifically supported.

Following are some of the policy identifiers:

• Reduce the need for new capital improvements through investments in ... demand management strategies;

• Increase the proportion of trips made by transportation modes that are an alternative to driving;

• Foster a less polluting system that reduces the negative effects ... on the climate and natural environment;

• Develop a transportation system that minimizes negative impact on human health.”

• Prioritize investments in transportation facilities and services in the urban growth areas that support compact, pedestrian and transit-oriented densities and development;

• Avoid construction of major roads and capacity expansion on existing roads in rural and resource areas; and,

• Promote transportation financing methods, such as user fees, tolls, and pricing, that sustains maintenance, preservation, and operation of facilities and reflect the cost imposed by users.”

Those policies reduce individual choice for use of the automobile and will discourage use of the automobile by reducing improvements to roads.

In addition to the taxes taken and used to create other modes of transportation, car drivers will be faced with an ever increasing variety of tolls and fees to force them out of their vehicles.

Loss of vehicles will significantly impact paying off existing public bonds supported by tolls, gasoline taxes, excise taxes and sales taxes.

Taxes collected for road use will be diverted to other “more efficient” modes.

Rural residents will simply be required to pay for road services not provided.

(The reader might even inquire as to whether these policies may be already in place, since it is frequently observed that most of our taxes seem to wind up somewhere other than road improvements!)

Policies that use funding extortion to force compliance should alone be enough to reasonably eliminate submission to PSRC and to terminate it as a Kitsap policy entity.

Those elected and empowered to govern Kitsap County should object to usurpation of their responsibilities as well as the policies themselves and the funding coercion in place to enforce them.

Wrongly convinced that our planet is dying, environmental concerns, climate control and populist rural-preservation goals are being employed by an entire generation of bureaucracies now firmly entrenched.

They are determined to have their way using transportation financing as their hammer.

Concepts of personal freedom and choice in home location and selection and personal transportation will perish on the altar of environment and mass transit. Why should residents of Kitsap County expect to benefit from policies of a governing board we don’t know and didn’t elect rather than our own elected representatives?

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