Every time another piece on state Route 167 appears, written by or quoting our politicians, it’s clear that business has been lobbying hard for completion of the freeway link into Port of Tacoma. Benefit to the people is said to be somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 jobs, depending on which publication is on the bottom of the birdcage at the moment. There has been no critical vetting of these numbers, and I challenge the parties involved to put up some data.
The formerly rich agricultural environment of the Kent-Auburn valley has already been saturated with warehouses, and the businesses are already moving their wares through the port. For each of these companies, the valley location was chosen on its own merits, based on the existing transportation corridors; they would be here anyway. We’re not going to see a whole new population of companies setting up shop in the valley as the result of building this segment of freeway. So where are these thousands of new jobs supposed to originate?
The real benefit is that existing companies will save a few transportation dollars with a more direct route to the port, but that simply translates to more profit, not more jobs. And technically, that profit will come directly from the public’s pocket.
I don’t claim that completing this link isn’t a good idea. But it ought to stand on some tangible merit rather than the lobbyists’ agenda and fuzzy math. The funds might have more public benefit used elsewhere.