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.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sound transit moving forward towards November ballot.

Sound Transit turns to citizens in push for expansion plans

By Mike Lindblom

Source Seattle Times transportation reporter

Sound Transit is fast-tracking a possible route to the November ballot by showing transportation expansion plans to citizens this spring, even though agency leaders haven't figured out several crucial details.

In about two weeks, a mass mailing will display maps of potential rail, bus, and park-and-ride locations in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, along with instructions on how to comment.

Transit-board members voted Thursday to seek more feedback before they decide whether to call a public vote.

A 20-year "Roads & Transit" construction plan was defeated last year. One question for board members is whether to field a ballot proposition now or wait until 2010.

Another question is money: whether to boost sales taxes an average of $100 or $125 a year per household, and for how many years.

A downsized 12-year version, nicknamed "ST 2020," is opposed by board members from Snohomish County, because light rail wouldn't cross the county line to Mountlake Terrace.

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, along with Deanna Dawson, an Edmonds City Council member, argued Thursday that last year's bigger plan to reach Lynnwood should remain in play. Rail would reach Northgate and at least downtown Bellevue but stop short of Federal Way, on a south line under new options.

Everett Councilmember Paul Roberts cast the lone vote against the public outreach, saying there "are too many unanswered questions."

He won't support express buses instead of rail, because the state lacks a plan to reduce clogs in high-occupancy freeway lanes.

"I feel like we're running through the street trying to get dressed," he said.

Board Chairman and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who wants an early vote, called last year's roads-and-transit proposition "a shotgun marriage" and said nobody is asking him for less transit. "We have a public that wants action," he said.

Another problem is the lack of a deal with BNSF Railway on two transit proposals: for additional Sounder commuter rail trips into Pierce County, or to convert a freight line to limited passenger service from Snohomish to north Renton.


Past BNSF deals took years to negotiate and cost tens of millions of dollars more than Sound Transit first hoped. An independent Expert Review Panel urged Sound Transit to reach a "term sheet" agreement before a transit election, something Chief Executive Joni Earl said she intends to do.

Also at issue is the Interstate 90 floating bridge, where concrete must be removed to add buoyancy if light-rail trains are to run there from Seattle to Bellevue.

State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, a board member, said construction and bridge-maintenance costs are unclear, and could increase.

She said studies aren't yet done to predict the effect on traffic, especially freight, from losing two road lanes. "I'm leaning 'no,' " she said of putting the issue before voters this year. "Why would you go back to a vote, when you don't have the answers?"

As gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon, backers such as Redmond Mayor John Marchione and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said they should keep trying for a plan this year.

With several highway-tolling proposals being considered around the state, Nickels argued transit lines are urgently needed. "I think it requires that we create an alternative to driving, and paying an $8 toll," he said

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