Northwest NEWS

July 30, 2001

Editorial

New road capacity will be used to justify new growth

Should anyone be surprised that Republicans are joining Democrats to create the largest tax increase in the history of Washington to raise new revenues to build roads?
   Republicans in the Legislature are not really interested in building roads to fix the problem; their real goal is to open the spigots of new growth for their growth industry backers because state law forbids new development unless there are roads.
   Critics have long argued the ways in which governments like King County subsidize growth by hiding its impacts so they can let their developer backers off the hook for their share of road and infrastructure costs.
   There can be no better example than King County's cooking of the books to hide Redmond Ridge's impacts on Novelty Hill Road. Today King County admits that the road must be widened to five lanes and the taxpayers will get to pay the $100 million for it, despite their insistence years ago that Redmond Ridge would not require the project.
   Multiply this by hundreds or thousands statewide and anyone should be able to understand why we now must open our wallets to build the infrastructure that our local governments didn't have the will to require new growth to pay for.
   But here is a warning. Unless new tax revenues to build roads are reserved to address current congestion alone, local governments will use the new road capacities to only justify more growth.
   We'll be paying to make things even worse by subsidizing this new growth.
   Michael Costello, Redmond