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Vol. 12, No. 3 - May/June 2001

Searching for Solutions to Traffic Congestion
Rising congestion - in the air and on the ground - has caused a growing concern within the Administration and has sparked congressional calls for action. The US Department of Transportation, echoing the advice of the Bush transition committee, has declared traffic congestion "a problem to which the DOT will need to devote increasing attention." Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta was even more emphatic. Appearing at a special April 4 hearing on congestion, sponsored by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, he stated "A central challenge for the department and the nation is to close the gap between demand for transportation and the capacity of our transportation infrastructure." Committee chairman Don Young (R-AK) concurred: "The only way to relieve congestion is to increase capacity," he said in his opening statement.

Seattle's Rail Controversy Comes to a Head
Ever since we published Emory Bundy's "wake-up call" concerning Seattle's light rail project nearly two years ago ("The Politics of Rail Transit: A Tale of Two Cities," Sept/Oct 1999), we have been following the controversy surrounding this project with growing fascination. As the events unfolded, the "Link" project became emblematic in our view, of the flaws that often characterize urban rail campaigns. The saga of the Seattle project culminated recently in a congressional hearing, a harshly critical report by DOT's Inspector General, and an announcement by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta that he was withholding $125 million in federal contribution "until Sound Transit has satisfactorily addressed the issues raised in the Inspector General's report" and Congress has had time to review the grant agreement. We reprint below a commentary by a prominent Seattle citizen and one of the leaders of the opposition, former two-term governor of the state of Washington, Booth Gardner. The commentary first appeared as a guest editorial in the April 11 edition of the Seattle Times.

Congestion Pricing is Inevitable - Guest Commentary by John A. Charles, Cascade Policy Institute
Congestion pricing has already arrived, and it's here to stay.

Transportation Notes from Abroad

  • "Flying by Train"
  • Car Sharing in Singapore
  • The Eclipse of the Bicycle in China
  • Railway Reform in Western Europe

The Culture of Low Density - Commentary
Twenty five years ago, the Council on Environmental Quality issued a report called "The Cost of Sprawl." The report was the first official acknowledgment that sprawl might have some negative implications and that we might want our cities to grow in a more orderly manner. However, during the two decades that followed, the trends documented in that report continued unchecked: housing tracts pushed out ever deeper into the surrounding areas; jobs migrated in growing numbers to the suburbs; our dependence on the automobile became ever more pronounced while the use of transit continued to erode. Now, twenty-five years later, we are hearing the same warnings. Are we going to heed them any more this time than we did a generation ago?


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