Let's have an advisory vote in November instead.
The fat-assed Bellevue SUV owners weren’t going to vote for ST2 anyway.
How is the I-90 light rail plan not completed? I like the decoupling, but this sounds like sour grapes someone's favorite bridge wasn't picked.
There is still some wrangling with Bellevue over elevated v. tunnel, but come on. That center roadway was built for rail. Not to mention that a Downtown-520-Bellevue-Redmond route would be ridonkulously serpentine. 520 makes sense for Ballard to Issaquah or Renton someday, but not for the first eastside line.
I would be happy to see Sound Transit get the green light to go out on its own in 2007. But at this point, Ed Murray is coming across as a compulsive reformer, an inveterate tinkerer who's throwing all sorts of stuff on the wall to try to see what will stick. You don't have a sense of the blowback, the unintended consequences, or, worse, what his unwritten agenda really is.
The idea of putting I-90 light rail on hold and possibly prioritizing light rail on 520 instead strikes me as one politician trying to make sure his district gets the pork that was going to another one.
By the way, I stopped taking Murray seriously last year when he said he was against monorail because he didn't like the aesthetics of it and that he thought he thought Seattle was too aesthetics-conscious to tolerate monorail. And I have to say, I really don't trust the guy either. This is the same guy who slipped "anything but monorail" into that legislation last year that would have redirected the Seattle monorail MVET. Then he tried to pass off that clause as not something he wanted but something that all those monorail-hating legislators in the rest of the state insisted on.
Murray is nuts if he wants to halt light rail on 90. That corridor's received the most attention, and is the most beneficial to the region. If he were serious, he'd attack a lower-ridership corridor, but this is really just pandering to Mercer Island's desire to keep their SOV access to the 90 express lanes - which they could have in a BRT scenario.
We shot down BRT - Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue and Issaquah all said "we want light rail, not BRT" - and BRT doesn't help people coming from Northgate and downtown who would have to transfer from trains to buses to get to the eastside.
I even wrote a piece on this:
Light rail over I-90 would cause huge congestion increases. Not just along that corridor, but at the exchanges with I-5 and I-405 as well.
By the way - the East Link portion of the project enjoys the strongest public support of any of the projects outside Seattle. Arguments that "Bellevue drivers won't get out of their SUVs" fall flat when you look at history in other cities.
7, how do you reach that conclusion? The R-8a alternative selected after endless wrangling adds HOV lanes to the mainlines. The center roadway already connects directly to the transit tunnel and Bellevue Way. You wouldn't happen to be one of the 900 Mercer Island drivers who gets to ride solo in the HOV lanes, would you?
Conservative estimates of light rail ridership, using federal modeling approved by the administration (which is not exactly pro-transit), show it carrying more passengers daily over 90 than currently use the HOV lanes. In addition, maximum passenger capacity of the light rail over 90 would be four times that of the existing HOV lanes.
That federal modeling also tends to lowball actual ridership - in Minneapolis, they have 40% higher ridership than the FTA projected.
That's right - East Link would carry more people over 90 than what it replaces. It will actually *reduce* the rate of increase of congestion in the other lanes.
RTID will be a better package if there's a plan of how 520 gets fully funded. Right now, there's no plan for where the 2-3 billion would come from if RTID passes and if the costs don't go up dramatically. So Sen Murray could be right.
"Conservative estimates of light rail ridership . . . show it carrying more passengers daily over 90 than currently use the HOV lanes."
That is a function of how few people use the HOV lanes. What you are talking about is how there would be huge potential light rail ridership CAPACITY. What you are ignoring is REALITY.
If you take away SOV capacity by both installing a light rail ROW, and increase the dedicated HOV ROW(on "shoulders"), it will add to the congestion for SOV users (the majority of the users of that stretch of road).
And the interchanges with I-5 and 405 will be terrible.
What would happen is the peak congestion periods will be worse, and those peak congestion periods will grow to virtually all day.
**(Ed Murray) argues that many of the projects on the list are not ready to go before voters including SR 520 and ST crossing of I-90. Therefore, he believes that ST should be able to go out by itself to voters in November, but without the I-90 crossing.**
If Bill LaBorde and other ST/RTID divorce advocates are so blind to believe Murray wants to stop the I-90 light rail project because "it's not ready", or "it could drage the rest of the package down," they might as well join the Kemper Freeman/John Stanton camp and start taking their blood money. You're already doing good work for them, whether you know it, or not.
Get a fricking clue.
I-90 Light rail project planning is AHEAD of the southern extension project to Tacoma, and the section from North Gate to Lynnwood - they've completed scoping and are now into the environmental process.
The reason Murray and other rail opponents singled out the East Link line is not related to any failures or doubt on behalf of the eastside communities. As Ben notes, all major eastside cities have endorsed light rail, and all the surveys I've seen put light rail on I-90 at the top of the preference list.
Murray and his new-found freeway friends aren't trying to stop I-90 light rail because of concerns this project will drag the ST2 package down - the exact opposite is true. Public transportation opponents know voters have zero interest in voting to tax themselves for more buses stuck in traffic (BRT) - which is why they always gravitate towards that option.
They are acting on the whims of a billionaire rail hater who plays golf with Kemper Freeman, and couple of legislators getting cold feet ("my outraged single-occupant constituent *get real* won't be able to drive in the center HOV lanes any more!")
This group lost their fight to substitute Bus Rapid Transit for light rail on I-90, and know the only way they can win these fights is through backroom-dealing, and political hijinx. Today's mouse-roaring exercise is a perfect and naked example. Josh Feit needs to dig in a little deeper, and avoid playing a role in this latest manipulation.
The other hidden agenda LaBorde is too slow to pick up on (or he's participating in it): John Stanton road hogs are dead-set on transferring ST's phase 1 & 2 eastside rail funds into the money pit that is 520. They have openly stated that. Joel "I hate rail" Connelly even mouthed their desires last week. (At least Connelly is honest about his wishes)
So much for Bill LaBoarde's pronouncements about how he wants the shift to go from roads to transit. In fact, I'm going to need to start seeing some hard evidence from both LaBorde and Ed Murray to prove they aren't just Vichy-style collaborators. I'm sick of this hidden agenda crap.
More importantly, how much longer do these hapless part-time legislators plan to meddle in local and regional affairs?
On one hand, Bill Laborde has expressed his interest in taking regional transportation planning out of Olympia's hands - but when that provision wasn't included in 5803, and when Ed Murray blatantly attempts to dictate the content of regional plans, LaBorde goes suspiciously silent.
For an effort supposedly promoting accountability, regionalism, and a more democratic process, Murray sure seems hell-bent on practicing the opposite of what he preaches.
Right now, we have the region collaborating on a transit-roads effort (as Ed Murray directed them to do last session - after stopping ST from going to the ballot alone) At the same time, our "can't make up my mind" state Senator seems to be driven by parochial interests, two projects particular to his own district, and a perennial grudge match based on power and ego.
A new elected transportation commission, based on 8 districts, will only create a bunch more Ed Murrays who will be paid to fight their little parochial battles from here on out, with the legislature forever second-guessing their decisions. Sounds like a grand idea.
First of all "get real", I don't think it would lead to all-day congestion. As it is now, the status quo isn't reducing congestion (you can't build your way out of congestion). And finally, if the drivers don't like the congestion, tough shit, they can take the train.
As someone who grew up on Mercer Island, I'd have loved to have light rail.
I misspoke. When I said "HOV", I meant "the express lanes", which are the only HOV across the bridge - but you knew that.
The express lanes today carry less traffic than the LRT that will replace them. I'm not talking about capacity (except to point out that capacity is much higher with LRT anyway) - I'm talking about ridership. More people will use LRT than currently use the express lanes. We will actually take general purpose lane cars off the road by converting.
We are NOT converting general lanes to LRT. We are converting the reversible express lanes, which are only SOV for Mercer Island residents. The displacement will be the reverse of what you suggest.
NateDog, whoever you are, you're awesome.
I forgot to mention, light rail to the Eastside is very important. Right now east-west links are severely capacity limited (only two freeways, and we aren't building any more anytime soon), so light rail, which can easily carry lots of people, is much needed.
Also, because of the network effect, as we expand light rail, the existing links become even more valuable. I'd like to see light rail to the Eastside before I'm dead. It is too bad we can't choose to make a donation to Sound Transit to get them to pick up the pace.
Ben has it right on the mark, and Get Real is the opposite of his "name." There are 6 general-purpose (i.e. SOV lanes) lanes on the I-90 bridge today, and there will be 6 such lanes after conversion of the center roadway to light rail.
The only "reduction" in SOV capacity results from Mercer Islanders losing their 30-year privilege of riding SOV in the HOV lanes. Tsk, tsk.
What rail-bashers want us all to forget is that the I-90 bridge was designed from the water up for rail transit. The 1976 interlocal agreement, laboriously arrived at, committed to the ultimate conversion of the center roadway to rail transit. WSDOT (actually its predecessor agency, the Highway Department) is a signatory to that agreement.
It's taken us too long already to get to this point of rail transit to the east side, and polling shows strong support among voters over there, head-in-the-sand observations to the contrary notwithstanding.
We can't let petty politics derail the project at this late date.
See question 37 on page 12 to see why light rail opponents are all over Murray's governance garbage, and why Murray is trying to meddle with the ST project list. (hint: light rail scores at the top of the list district-wide - roads score a close second)
See question 42 on page 14 to see how buses rate on the popularity chart (hint: near zero)
See questions 57-60 on page 17 to see why Kemper Freeman and John Stanton are do obsessed with stopping the November vote, and transferring LRT money to 520 through backroom deals
(hint: light rail extensions north, south, and east out-poll 520)
See question 65 on page 18 to see why anti-railers are so desperate to prevent East link project from going to the voters this fall (hint: 70% of KC voters would be influenced positively to voter for the package)
See question 68 on page 19 to see why knee-jerk greens in Seattle are desperate to prevent Cross-base highway from going in front of Pierce voters (hint: 80% support for that project)
RTID is dead. They can kill ST by keeping it linked - or wake up and smell the voter anger at being asked to subsidize more road projects.
Will is right, RTID is dead (or more accurately, on its deathbed gasping for air) and ST needs to be freed from that dead weight.
I agree with everyone that the I-90 crossing is essential and it cannot be held hostage to the break-up of the joint ballot and the death of RTID. Whatever his motivations, Ed Murray is wrong about that piece.
I have no hidden agenda, only a quite open desire to stop digging the hole deeper on climate change. Building new SOV lane miles in this day and age is stupid: because of induced traffic, it won't solve any congestion problems in the long run and makes it much more difficult to respond to any climate change plan (RTID would more than deplete any gains we set in motion with passage of the Clean Car bill in 2005). Many of the RTID projects in their current form, along with the taxes, only put a drag on passing ST2 with the voters (the 80% support figure for cross-base is bullshit because of the way the question was asked - a well organized local opposition to the project is a reality).
As I've said many times before, I do not support SB 5803 in its current form and I don't think moving forward on ST2 without I-90 is in any way realistic. But with RTID withering on the vine, some framework other than RTID redux needs to be put in place as we pick up the pieces. I would love to see ST2 go out by itself this November and have a conversation about governance reform afterward, but too many key legislators and the governor have said that's not an option. At least Murray is putting forward ideas. If the regional governance model is so fucked up, what's your idea?
For every one *Will in Seattle*, driving 5 miles (relatively congestion-free) to his favorite coffee shop **thinking about how we shouldn't be building or improving ONE MORE ROAD for the other 3 million people living in King, Pierce or Snohomish Counties** there's a conservative doppleganger of yours fuming in heavy traffic outside Seattle, and he's listening to Dori Monson and complaining light rail isn't going to do a thing to help his delivery truck to get through all this traffic.
Will, your primarily failing over the years (and the Stranger sometimes fall prey to this) revolves around the theory Seattle is an island.
I'm sorry to tell you here and now: it's not.
We're all interconnected - whether it's freight, the service industry, affordable housing, high tech jobs, low tech jobs, industrial zones, ports, airports, maritime, sporting events, colleges and universities, cultural events, concerts, etc: all mobility modes need to be addressed to make the whole thing work.
Pitting city against suburb might make you feel good about yourself, and may lead to nice warm feelings of urban superiority - but the benefits of your Rovian divisiveness stops right there.
And since we rely on a public vote to build this infrastructure, and meet the coming demand of population and economy growth, YOUR particular monorail values may not sell so well in E. Pierce County.
Witness Bill LaBorde, who thinks Pierce voters should feel just fine about funding a multi-zillion dollar 520 bridge, but Seattlites should play no part in helping fulfill Pierce's freight and mobility needs.
This me-centered approach doesn't help anybody. And Will: good luck building a wall around Seattle to keep all these "other people" out of our city.
**I don't think moving forward on ST2 without I-90 is in any way realistic.**
OK, I'm starting to finally see some common sense displayed here, Bill. I'll lighten up on ya'.
**If the regional governance model is so fucked up, what's your idea?**
We could start by asking the legislature to pick one direction, and try sticking with it for once.
With this latest Ed Murray "proposal", I'm counting at least 4 major direction shifts, and top-down manipulations with regional implications, in the past two years alone.
Unfortunately, the legislature will never fully give up its power, or its petty electoral district-based politics & absurd horse-trading - so I don't think I have a good answer for you, at this point, Bill.
I do know there is a certain level of regional cooperation going on now, and I know you would acknowlege that if you didn't have your own narrow interest in mind.
In fact, if you read behind the lines of everything that's happened in the last week in a half, I think it's the quality of regional cooperation **not the lack thereof** which has the Ed Murray's and John Stanton's of the world all hot and bothered.
@21 - agree on needing to keep I-90 light rail builds in the HOV lanes.
@22 - I used to commute from Ballard to Issaquah every day on 99 and 90. Then I commuted from Fremont to Crossroads on 90. Don't give me carp about not knowing the area.
The fact I chose to work in Seattle and walk to work instead of spending up to 60 minutes stuck in traffic was my choice. And my ex just started working over in Redmond for MSFT, so it's not like I don't know the options for the area, since if she's held up, it's because the bus was stuck in traffic - AGAIN. So, politely, STFU. I know more about traffic, transit, roadways, and the interconnection than you ever will. Heck, I used to build roads and airports ... you?
NateDog: Pierce definitely needs stuff to vote for a regional package. Here are my proposals:
Transit: complete light-rail to the T-Dome; direct access ramp to I-5 from T-Dome station; ensure completion of Sounder to Lakewood; maybe extend Sounder to Dupont (not sure if ridership is there or not), more park & ride capacity at South Hill and other suburban Pierce Co. spots, more ST Express service in suburban Pierce Co., extend Tacoma light rail from downtown to Stadium District.
Roads: SR 167 extension to Port with 1-5 interchange; HOV on I-5 to 512 (can't remember how much of that got funded in the gas tax increase), maybe HOV on SR 512 to Meridian???
Gosh, the more I read about Ed Murray, the more I am taking him seriously -- as a foe of transit. As others have noted, light rail across I-90 is about as fully baked and broadly supported (both among voters and politicians) as any transit project we've seen since, well, I don't know when.
I can only hope Josh Feit et al can shine some light on Murray's possible motives.
You want to know what ST's I-90 and eastside expansion plans amount to, compared against a well-designed and built replacement to the SR 520 bridge? Peanuts.
When would the ST light rail line I-90 and eastside projects come on line if approved in November? 2027. The opportunity cost of putting off the eastside expansion of the light rail line to this region for a couple of years would be negligible.
get real: Get real. The first new projects after the ST2 vote would come online before 2012. Yes, it'll take until 2027 to get to Redmond with the current funding package, but Bellevue will open long before that - and we can always go back and upgrade funding to accelerate construction.
A well-designed and built replacement to the 520 bridge adds only two HOV lanes. The peak-hour capacity of the two LRT tracks we'll build on 90 will be as high as the ENTIRE 520 BRIDGE.
@28 - assuming population doesn't grow.
oh, wait, it will - and FAST.
hmmm, did you sleep thru Econ classes and Stats classes? I used to put little winged foil wrappers from my gum in your hair, if so ...
One more note. Not only will East Link have the capacity of the 520, but your commute on East Link from downtown to, say, Microsoft, will be half as long as your commute on 520.
"The peak-hour capacity of the two LRT tracks we'll build on 90 will be as high as the ENTIRE 520 BRIDGE."
But that capacity will not be fully utilized - not even close. Some commuters who have steady jobs at the same location would get a convenient alternative to driving. But at too high a price. Most of the people paying the tax NEVER would use the train, and NEVER would have a shorter drive time because those trains are running. Most new job growth is not going to be in downtown Seattle or downtown Bellevue. It is an overbuilt system, in terms of cost vs. economic return.
Why not do this in increments? ST could go to the voters in November with a slimmed down request: lower taxes to extend the line to Northgate. That provides bang for a reasonable buck. ST doesn't need to ask for everything all at once, right now.
And your glib retort above about how ST supposedly plans on adding HOV lanes (on shoulders of the I-90 bridge) PLUS a dedicated LRT ROW and yet somehow not decrease SOV throughput capacity does not pass the smell test. The ST plans for I-90 WILL increase car and truck congestion on that highway.
**...you would acknowlege that if you didn't have your own narrow interest in mind**
Climate change is not my own narrow interest.
get real: Most people paying taxes for any given road project will never use it, and we don't apply the reasoning you're applying to rails to our highways. We build transportation infrastructure for its economic benefit - and in the density we have and will have in Puget Sound, a multimodal system has far superior value per capital project dollar spent than a monomodal road-only system.
ST isn't adding HOV lanes, WSDOT is. That's the R8A project, which you can find here:
This argument is old, and tired, and over. ST has strong support with the projects they've got - they have no reason to slim down. RTID does - they have strong opposition.
"The first new projects after the ST2 vote would come online before 2012."
RIIIIIGGGHHHHT - just like the 21 miles of light rail we approved in 1996 are operational NOW (like Sound Transit said they would be). Do not believe ANYTHING Sound Transit says. All it wants is your vote to lock in taxes forever. You won't get what you think you are agreeing to pay for.
"Public transportation opponents know voters have zero interest in voting to tax themselves for more buses stuck in traffic (BRT) - which is why they always gravitate towards that option."
Hmmm, "...voters have zero interest in voting to tax themselves for more buses stuck in traffic". Yeah, that explains why Transit Now went down in flames at the polls, except, oh wait, it didn't, it actually passed. I guess in that alternate universe where Sound Transit got their light rail line running last year. Yeah, that's it.
Such a juicy promise.
Ben – post the link to where ST promises some projects before 2012.
Maybe THAT will be a reason to vote yes/yes in November.
Murray is losing his battle to kill the RTID and is grasping at straws and crying for attention. Why? Because he knows he has lost but wants credit for trying so some special interests will continue to suck up to him.
He's now a freshman Senator with no real clout. People with real clout don't write news releases to leadership. They don't need to. The real transportation leader in the Senate announced yesterday that RTID will get a vote this fall, and then go away.
Every poll indicates that the ballot measure will pass this fall.
LaBorde and Murray are simply trying to raise a fuss to try to get their way on a couple of pet projects for each. LaBorde is trying to kill the Cross Base Highway (has been for years). Murray is trying to squeeze more money from other places to 520 - and he wants to delay any vote that will help 520 because he's caught between interests in his district and doesn't want to be blamed by any of them, for anything. That's why he wants a mediator.
When will we hear the 520 option he is for? When hell freezes over.
LaBorde and Murray are working hand-in-hand. But people see through their game. Their game will be over in a month. And they'll have little to show for all their ranting.
Murray doesn't have the votes for the silly wasteful government John Stanton wants to run for Governor on. LaBorde doesn't have the clout to kill anything.
Does the "great regional cooperation" going on now have anything to do with John Ladenburg being pierce Co exec & Sound Transit Board Chair & PSRC Chair & past Chair of the Economic Development Planning Board? Do the Weyerhaeuser plans for the 10,000 houses on the plateau East of orting have anything to do with the Cross-base Highway?.. which could have been designed on existing roads, but is planned to run through the largest intact piece of the #% remnant of native oak prairie in Wa? Do the planners really think that, if they isolate McChord AFB from Ft. Lewis with a 4 lane highway, that maybe BRAC will close McChord, and the Port of Tacoma will have ITS own airbase, as POS does now? The Cross-base is aimed at Port of Tacoma's lackluster industrial park- but (like ST terminus a mile from SeaTac, & plans for the Tacoma link to end in Fife) comes up about 2 miles shy of the biz park- in THIS round of funding... Has anyone noticed that the cross-base would run parallel to SR512, about 3 miles away- and this is still RURAL Pierce County we're talking about. Do you think Ladenburg will be asking Weyerhaeuser execs for $$ for his run for Atty General in the next election? so do i... ^..^
Murray is correct: neither RTID nor ST2 is ready for the ballot. The Legislature tied them together last session. They have the power to untie them. Is he asking for a time out?
North Link LRT would be a great transit investment.
The RTID issues are major and include the following fatal flaws. 1. The sales tax should not be used for highway expansion; it would unfair, inefficient, and politically risky. 2. The RTID would fund the fifth and sixth lanes of SR-520 before anyone has funded the replacement four lanes. 3. The RTID would fund several expansions of limited access highways before regional systemwide dynamic tolling is established. This would be counter to growth management and would induce sprawl. If the SR-167 extension to the Port of Tacoma and the SR-509 extension are needed for freight, they should be tolled.
The ST2 issues are more subtle. We all LOVE LRT and are ready to vote for it; but let's put some smart proposals on the ballot. During phase one, the ST Board has been largely unwilling to revise plans even when they proved much more costly than expected (e.g., Sounder north). In other regions, initial LRT lines used abandoned freight rail lines (e.g., Vancouver, San Jose, Sacremento, St. Louis, San Diego). The Seattle area is right-of-way starved. ST is building new ones. Does South Link LRT to Fife pass the laugh test? No. In phase one, Link was run through MLK Jr. Way South for ridership. That builds in slow speed and makes in an unsuitable regional transit spine that the ST board is so excited to provide. South Sounder and buses in HOT lanes are much better for the long-distance markets between Tacoma, Federal Way, Green River Valley, and Seattle. ST2 could extend the Tacoma streetcar to both TCC and PLU and support growth management more.
Murray may be correct about I-90 as well. ST2 has studied the east line enough to know that they cannot afford to reach downtown Redmond and that it will not reach Overlake until 2022. East Link LRT will provide a train every nine minutes in both directions. Is that a good use of the I-90 center roadway? Please do not compare LRT against today's bus service. Compare LRT against buses after R8A and other reliability measures. What other transit projects could be funded if I-90 was BRT? How about elevating several eastside lines to BRT and providing diesel LRT on the dinner train track between Renton and Woodinville via Bellevue, Overlake Hospital, Kirkland, and Totem Lake? Could not a eastside BRT network be provided much faster than by 2022? The ST2 East funds need not go to roads if they do not build east Link LRT across I-90; they could go to different transit projects. How about a center access ramp for Issaquah?
ST2 would raise the sales tax by five tenths, bond against it for decades, and not provide much benefit for a long time.
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