Opinion

Editorial | Navigating the future

If you travel or commute in this region, you know the drill: check the weather, check the time — and then check the status of the roads and the various transportation systems. The goal, as always, is to avoid nasty surprises when we venture from our offices and homes.

This preoccupation with transportation may even supplant our discussion of the weather; it is so important to our lives.

Knowing this, the group of Reporter Newspapers east and south of Seattle is in the midst of preparing a special transportation section, Navigating the Future, that will be included as part of our regular newspaper. It will be published near the end of September.

Why transportation now? After all, didn’t voters recently approve the second phase of Sound Transit’s Link light rail system? And isn’t the state Department of Transportation moving ahead with numerous highway transportation projects designed to make life easier on our roads? Heck, can’t we almost imagine what the completion of a new Highway 520 floating bridge might be like?

Well, yes — and no.

All of this activity is in the works. But what it might look like — and might accomplish — isn't exactly known quite yet. We don’t profess to have all the answers, either, but we do think our readers will benefit from being able to sit down and get a handle on the transportation situation at one sitting.

This region has been dealing — struggling, more likely, some would say — for decades. How did we get to where we are today, and why has it taken so long?

What are the agencies that have been at the forefront in this effort?

From lost opportunities to Greg Nickels/tolls and beyond, how have we funded (or not) the system we are putting in place today?

We also want to look beyond what’s on the ground now and see what’s next for our highways and bridges. Tolls likely will be a part of our future. What effect will they have on our lives — and where and when we travel?

We also want to introduce you to the major players in this endeavor, the heads of the key agencies and those people in the private sector who have been in the trenches of this long battle through a series of “conversations.”

There also are a number of changes coming that deal with how we use our new transportation system. We’ll explore light rail through words, photographs and video to give you a sense of that newly opened system.

We’ll find out about the new Orca card, the system for paying from trips on the region’s increasingly interconnected systems.

We’ll also explore what’s next for the region’s bus services, Metro, Pierce and Community transit.

We won’t limit ourselves to just the four (or more) wheels of transportation options. Bicycles are becoming a key factor in travel and community to the point where there are bicycle ride share projects that mirror the way some communities share cars.

We’ll even give you a map of our interconnected region to help you get from here to there.

Perhaps most importantly, this effort will have as a major component a link to a new Web site that will keep these stories fresh through constant updates. And because it is the Web, many of those elements will be interactive, letting you explore in more depth the various aspects of transportation.

We’ll give you updates as the project moves toward completion, including when to watch for it in your Reporter newspaper. With it in hand, perhaps the only thing we’ll have to talk is the weather — when it will rain and, of course, the dreaded possibility of snow.

Stay tuned.

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