Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Press Conference on Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Recommendations
November 30, 2000
Thank all of you for joining me today, particularly those of you who found yourselves tied up in traffic on the way to Olympia!
The fact that the transportation leaders of both parties from both houses of the Legislature are standing with the heads of some of Washington's largest employers and me demonstrates our firm resolve to bring Washington's transportation system into the 21st Century.
I have already met with House Co-Speaker Frank Chopp, Senate Democratic Leader Sid Snyder and transportation leaders from both parties.
And as recently as yesterday, I had a very good meeting with Republican House Co-Speaker Clyde Ballard and Senate Republican Leader Jim West.
And we are scheduling another meeting next week. And there will be many more meetings after that.
I am committed to working together to solve our transportation problems.
We are already working together and I appreciate their leadership.
In a unique way, it was a bipartisan effort that got us the Blue Ribbon Commission and these recommendations in the first place.
Let me be clear from the beginning: I have reviewed the recommendations proposed by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation, and other suggestions as well.
And I'm paring down priorities.
I look forward to working closely with Republicans as well as Democrats in the Legislature to produce a bi-partisan transportation package.
Therefore, I'm very pleased that these key legislative leaders from both parties have joined me here today.
Thank you, Representative Ruth Fisher, Representative Maryanne Mitchell, Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, and Senator Jim Horn.
I also want to thank the 46 people who spent two years producing the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation's report, which I received yesterday.
Their hard work has given us a great start!
I pledge that we will take these recommendations as the foundation to get our state moving efficiently again.
We are here to announce that business as usual is over.
The days of creep-and-beep, crawl-and-stall are on their way out.
We are going to get people to and from work much quicker and more efficiently.
And we are going to ship Washington's products across the country and the world more efficiently.
The logo behind me captures our theme: GETTING WASHINGTON MOVING!
We are going to:
Maintain our current system at its optimal level
Reduce red tape and maximize getting people and products from place to place more efficiently
Complete projects on time, on budget and with the lowest possible administrative costs
Plan transportation projects that deliver what they promise
I'll ask the Legislature to grant the Washington Transportation Commission new authority and convert it into the Transportation Accountability Commission.
It will be responsible for monitoring and grading the improvement of our roads, rails, ferries and bus lines.
I've already sent a letter to the Washington Transportation Commission to adopt Blue Ribbon Commission benchmarks that ensure our roads and highways are in good condition and our bridges are sound.
That's for the present.
But as the Blue Ribbon Commission suggests, we need to move in new directions.
I want the new transportation secretary to undertake a complete and independent review of the administrative practices at the Department of Transportation.
In other words . . . cut through the bureaucracy.
Another is to streamline the process for planning and building transportation projects - roads, bike paths, HOV lanes - all of them.
Dollar savings squeezed from efficiencies will flow into a Transportation Savings Incentive Program to fund new priority projects.
With bipartisan help in the Legislature, we will establish strong local - as well as state - transportation authorities without creating a new layer of government.
That means the people of Spokane or central Puget Sound will be able to address their own traffic problems as well as looking at what is good for the state as a whole.
We'll also establish a streamlined system that fairly distributes maintenance, preservation and safety funding across the state.
I'm going to insist on modern management in our re-created transportation system.
We will set goals.
Managers will be held accountable for achieving them on schedule and on budget.
We will synchronize traffic signals so that large numbers of vehicles can move quickly through an area.
We can provide a *511 cell phone system so that a driver can call and get information about congestion, weather and road conditions in any part of the state.
Another extremely viable technology to reduce traffic is telecommuting . . . something we can certainly do in a state that is home to national leaders in computer-based innovation.
Other states allow the private sector to develop and operate comfortable rest stops with fuel and food for travelers - and generate money to cover the costs. We are looking seriously at that as well.
We also will have to make long-term transportation investments.
It makes sense for regional and state transportation managers - using modern cost-benefit analysis systems - to invest our money where it will do the most good.
One obvious priority: spend money to relieve major traffic choke points.
We have plenty of them.
Anyone who drives has sat in them.
Some of the best known are:
I-405 at State Route 167
The Blaine border crossing
The North Spokane corridor
The 520 bridge over Lake Washington
I-5 in southwest Washington
In future weeks and months we need to have a statewide dialogue about how we are going to address these serious problems.
Beginning Monday, I and members of the Commission will be on radio stations statewide during morning and evening commute hours for more than a week.
I invite drivers and others to call us directly to talk about this issue.
We'll talk about problems … and solutions.
In December, I will offer specific proposals to address these transportation issues.
Where I have authority, I will implement proposals before Christmas.
After Christmas, I will work with the Legislature on a bipartisan plan to recreate Washington's transportation system based on the Blue Ribbon Commission's fine work.
Identifying the problems is easy. . . they are all around us.
Solutions - particularly those that require money - won't be as simple.
All of us know we won't get new roads or bridges for free.
I am committed to working on a bipartisan basis with the Legislature to find these solutions.
I'm convinced that with this commission's recommendations as a roadmap, we can bring meaningful improvements to all aspects of our state's transportation system - starting immediately.
Now, I'd like to invite some of my distinguished guests to speak.