AIA/WA Testifies on Transportation Goals

Today the AIA Washington Council’s Executive Director Stan L. Bowman, Hon AIA/WA, testified before the House Transportation Committee about future transportation goals.

Recent work on the Alaska Way Viaduct, State Route 520 floating bridge and the Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River have raised serious concerns about the goals under which the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) operates. AIA’s involvement in these projects have made clear that WSDOT is not handling such projects well.

First, WSDOT poorly handles relations with communities in the development, design and implementation of major transportation systems. These “mega-projects” have enraged the local communities about the lack of sensitivity to their community context and ignore community goals.

Second, WSDOT does a poor job of designing these mega-projects. WSDOT only uses internal agency engineers for nearly all of their projects. They do use consultants on a limited basis for guidance, but the design of the systems is performed by in-house engineers. The result is that recent project designs lack creativity and sensitivity to local conditions.

HB 2041, introduced by Representatives Fred Jarrett (R-41, Mercer Island) and Geoff Simpson (D-47, Covington & Black Diamond), and HB 2139, introduced by Rep. Simpson, would require WSDOT to adhere to several goals. These goals are described in the bill reports. HB 2091 also requires WSDOT to have greater focus on sustainability and carbon reduction goals.

The AIA/WA testified that while these goals are laudable, they still miss a major goal that transportation systems should be context sensitive and focus on design excellence. To support this testimony, Bowman distributed to the committee members copies of AIA’s 10 Principles for Livable Communities and a chapter from the AIA Publication Livability 101 titled Effective Planning for Regional Transportation.

To listen to the hearing, go to http://www.tvw.org/ and enter either bill number in the search engine.