As a new poll shows that a majority of Washington State residents support the idea of adding health to the state's transportation policy goals (55 percent said they support making health one of the state's transportation policy goals), legislation to do just that is being threatened by a proposal, pushed by the conservative Washington Policy Center, to put the state's emphasis on reducing traffic congestion, not improving health.

Emphasizing health, of course, leads to policies that lean more toward public transportation, walking, and biking, as opposed to driving in single-occupancy vehicles.

The proposed amendment preserves the "health" policy, but replaces the goal of improved "mobility" (basically, the ability to get around by whatever transportation mode) with "traffic congestion relief."

The new goal, the amendment says, is "To reduce traffic congestion and improve vehicle travel times for transportation customers."

Carrie Dolwick, lobbyist for the Transportation Choices Coalition, says that to "broaden the focus away from just building roads" would "move us backwards in time, to a more narrow focus." Additionally, she says the state transportation commission already focuses heavily on congestion relief (under its mobility improvement goal), so the specific congestion amendment is unnecessary.

The bill has a hearing in the senate transportation committee at 1:30 next Monday afternoon.

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