Friday, July 09, 2004

Highway 9 transportation corridor, improvements might be good idea


Scene along Highway 9 in Whatcom County. Mt. Baker and Twin Sisters visible on horizon. Image taken between Nugent's Corner and Deming.

That section of the highway has good shoulders. Other sections, north of Nugent's, are terrible. Too much traffic, no shoulder, in some cases ditches right next to the road. Farther south 9 is a mixed bag. Not that good of shoulder in Skagit County, but fairly good south of Arlington, WA.

Letter to the editor I wrote. It was in the Northwest Sun July 8. I added some more thoughts here.

My first thought about the proposed Highway 9 transportation corridor is, "great, an uninterrupted bike trail all the way to Seattle; possibly even to the Oregon border." Other people have bleaker images of said corridor. They say it might be a 6 lane freeway bulldozing its way through pristine farmlands. Lynwood Sprawl creeping north?

Guess what folks, we already have Lynwood sprawl in this area. As long as people keep moving here, having kids, buying homes and driving cars, the local infrastructure grows. In the past, growth has been haphazard. A new road here, a power line there. Sprawl comes in bits and pieces.

The idea of a transportation corridor is more enlightened than thinking of just a highway or power line. It tries to contain all these things into one corridor. What this corridor becomes is an open question. The question is answered, in part, by the lifestyles and transportation demands of people in the regions it serves. Under certain conditions, this corridor could just mean rail improvements. Imagine more people using the train.

In Seattle, there is a multi use corridor called the Burke Gillman Bike Trail. That corridor is also the path for a fiber optic cable which helped pay for building the trail.

A good way to reduce the chance that 9 will become an ugly freeway is to cut back on automobile use. This is a good time to look at ourselves in the mirror. When there is more demand for alternative forms of transportation, planning can adapt. This is especially true if it is called a "transportation corridor" rather than just a "highway."

More thinking

Of course my concept of "the people create their own reality" has its limits. Even if everyone around Acme, WA. (one of many points along 9's path) were "child free" bohemians with no cars, a freeway could still be crammed down their throats. The freeway might be built to connect SUV driving yuppies, of Seattle's east side, with their counterparts around Vancouver, BC.

I remember a rock song from the 1960s with the dreaded phrase, "Number 9, Number 9, Number 9." A childhood friend of mine used to play that record to drive his poor mother up the wall.

Also in the Sun

Articles and an interesting cartoon written by other people. The articles reported on volumes of citizen opposition to a possible freeway. The cartoon showed many lanes of ugly traffic, depicted on a planning document, with one planner saying to the other, "Maybe they'll buy it if we throw in a bike lane." The Sun is a free publication available at places around this area.

1 comment:

Wheelson said...

I just got a road bike a week or so ago. On my ride last Sunday I had to stop at this corner and admire the view. What an awesome bike route to have in our backyard uh? I mountain bike quite a bit but watching the Tour inspired me to get back into road biking. I'm now training for the Mt. Baker Hill climb. I've been looking for good Whatcom County bike routes on the web but haven't found any. Do you have any suggestions of places to look?