Spokane’s streets are in their worst shape in 50 years. People should be encouraged to use public transit. The city needs a north-south freeway.
That’s what some of the more than 100 people attending a transportation forum said Wednesday night.
Dale Stedman, representing the area Good Roads Association, blamed the city’s deteriorating streets on a lack of money to maintain them.
“We have deterioration, and no one is doing anything about it,” he said.
City officials, state lawmakers, business leaders and concerned citizens also spoke out. The forum, at the Riverpoint Higher Education Park, was sponsored by the Washington Transportation Policy Institute.
The non-profit organization is holding a dozen community forums around the state to help prioritize transportation needs.
Much of the talk Wednesday focused on preserving and maintaining roads, getting from Point A to Point B efficiently and constructing the long-proposed north-south freeway.
At a cost of $2 billion, the road never will be built, some say. It would take about 20 years to complete.
Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty said the city’s biggest transportation challenges are filling potholes and avoiding gridlock by improving traffic flow.
Within six years, Geraghty said, the city will need to increase the capacity of its streets to accommodate about 50,000 new residents.
Others called for developing transportation alternatives, such as encouraging more use of public transit and car pools.
Increasing the gasoline tax is only part of the solution, said Ed Sharman, American Automobile Association spokesman and chairman of the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce.
He said more than 40 percent of the motor vehicle excise tax is funneled into the state general fund. That money, he said, should be spent on transportation projects.