Opinion

Puget Sound Regional Council's transportation plan just more social engineering

The Puget Sound Regional Council last week unveiled its transportation vision for the next 30 years, and if the deep thinkers at the organization get their way, residents of Port Orchard may not be able to leave town without paying for the privilege.

Among the centerpieces of Transportation 2040, PSRC’s roadmap for the region’s commuting future, are $800 million worth of improvements to the Gorst chokepoint, the widening of State Routes 16 and 3, creation of a complex network of “rapid bus transit” routes and facilities, as well as that old favorite, fast-ferry service from pretty much every existing ferry terminal in Kitsap County.

The agency, which is composed of governmental leaders from cities and counties throughout the Puget Sound region, envisions the bulk of the financing for all of this coming from the federal government — meaning it comes out of your back pocket instead of your front, if that’s any comfort to you.

The remainder of the funding, PSRC is fuzzy on. But the preferred options seem to be tolling SR-3 and SR-16, or charging all drivers a tax based on the number of miles they drive.

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola voted against the plan on the sensible theory that a transportation solution that built no new road surfaces and would require city residents to pay a toll every time they left town on existing roads that had already been paid for was a pretty crummy way to treat his constituents.

But even if you could clear the financing hurdles, Transportation 2040 would still be a bad idea because of its reliance on mass transit — despite conclusive evidence that almost no one gives up their car willingly.

As ever, PSRC’s utopian vision of people shoehorned into apartment buildings downtown and happily eschewing the freedom of driving their own cars in favor of the joy of bus travel bears little or no resemblance to reality.

Then again, social engineering masquerading as public policy seldom does.

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