The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pierce County will not support ST2 unless light rail goes to Tacoma

No light rail? Then we’re not buying tickets
Published: March 26th, 2008 01:00 AM
South Sound citizens had an understanding in 1996 when they voted to create a regional transit system that year. Seattle would get a light rail line first, then the service would be extended to Tacoma.

The thinking ran like this: The South Sound would support expensive rail construction through S eattle to Sea-Tac Airport. Later – with Seattle’s support – Sound Transit would support the extension of light rail through South King County to the Tacoma Dome Station.

That’s how we understood the deal, and we were paying very close attention.

Now it’s 2008. Seattle’s got its line; Sound Transit plans to open the first segment of it next year. But guess what? Somewhere along the way, some of the agency’s planners and leaders started losing interest in the airport-to-Tacoma connection.

Sound Transit has lately been working up a ballot measure that would drop that connection. Instead of linking Tacoma and Federal Way to the rest of the region, it would – ta da! – extend the trolley-like rail service on Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue all the way to Tacoma General Hospital. Maybe even as far as Tacoma Community College.


As the agency’s board contemplates the politics of its next step, it needs to be clear on something: Any package that doesn’t provide for light rail to Pierce County is going to run into an insurgency down here. Let’s be double clear: This opinion page will be the loudest part of that insurgency.

Not that the line must be built in its entirety if there’s simply not enough money to do so. Sound Transit is looking at trimming down the taxes voters rejected in November’s failed Roads & Transit proposal. But even if the South Sound’s rail connection to the airport and beyond isn’t all built at once, it had better remain one of the agency’s overriding, top-of-the-list priorities.

That might mean buying right-of-way if rail can’t go the distance. But it emphatically does not mean shifting the focus to expensive projects inside Tacoma as development and escalating real estate prices in South King County permanently foreclose the option of light rail in the future.

Some on the board want to put the transit package on this fall’s ballot without funding for the Tacoma-to-airport link. They think the presidential-year turnout and a lower price tag will help put such a package over the top.

Big miscalculation.

Whatever the price tag, a lot of people in Pierce and South King counties won’t think much of a plan that denies them a rail connection to the heart of the region’s economy. Nor will folks in places like Puyallup and Lakewood be enthralled by the idea of dumping regional transit money into projects that will chiefly help Tacomans get around town.

Have we been clear enough? We’ll put it another way to the Sound Transit board: Kiss off light rail for the South Sound, kiss off the South Sound.

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