Written by Andrea H. Reay, President/CEO of the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce
The Puget Sound Region is, in many ways, the envy of the world. Our booming economy with high tech and high wage jobs, our beautiful environment with lush green parks and waterfront—it all makes living and working in the Seattle Metro region highly sought after. According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue grew by over 64,000 people from 2016 to 2017. The Census Bureau also reports that our tri-county area of Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties is the 6th fastest-growing region in the nation. People and businesses are attracted to our community because of the high quality of life and ready workforce. But, are we investing enough in transportation systems to accommodate this thriving population growth? Are we doing enough to ensure that access to education and jobs are available to everyone? The short answer is we are working on it.
In 2015, the state legislature passed the Puget Sound Gateway Program. The Puget Sound Gateway Program is composed of two projects: the completion of SR 167 in Pierce County and the completion of SR 509 in King County. These projects provide essential connections to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle and will help ensure people and goods move more reliably through the Puget Sound region. We know this investment will improve mobility on our local roads. However, we also need to increase transit options along with road and highway improvements to increase mobility and access, especially for our most vulnerable populations.
Puget Sound Gateway Program Map – “The SR 167 and SR 509 extensions will complete the missing highway system links to I-5 that offer commuter and freight mobility benefits through added capacity and improved connectivity.” Source: https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Gateway/map.htm
Supporting mass transit infrastructure projects, like Sound Transit and Metro, are certainly part of creating a more robust and reliable public transportation system. We also support public transit-private partnerships to help boost ridership and create safe and reliable first/last mile and on-demand services. With so many workers in our community working off-hours and double shifts, access to safe and reliable transportation is key not only for their physical mobility, but also for their economic mobility to gain access to education, career, and support services.
Transportation investments are more than one model or one solution. By working together across jurisdictions and in partnership, we can help provide systems that work for our community and help preserve our high quality of life, our economy, and our environment.
This blog article was written by Andrea H. Reay, President/CEO of the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce – “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila since 1988. For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com.