News Senator Ed Murray and Sound Transit
posted by March 23 at 14:58 PMon
State Senator Ed Murray took some time with me today to explain the letter he wrote earlier this week (the one that’s currently causing a ruckus in Slog comments).
His letter cuts straight to the debate over coupling or decoupling Sound Transit and RTID on this November’s ballot. Murray wants to decouple them—which is ironic, given that it was his legislation last year that made them dependent on each other—and he says his letter proposes a political strategy and an enticing compromise to make that happen.
Murray says he’s not opposed to light rail on I-90. He is, however, anti-RTID—or at least down on RTID’s failure to mitigate the wreckage that’s planned for the communities around 520 and RTID’s “failure to provide one red cent for transit there.”
Murray is also convinced that coupling RTID and Sound Transit on the November ballot will kill light rail at the polls (thanks, in part, to 520-area voters who will give the package the finger despite supporting light rail).
Murray says the proposal outlined in the letter he sent to house and sentate leaders and transportation committee chairs (a proposal to take RTID off the ballot and only put ST’s expansion to the north on the ballot, not I-90) is a tactical move to disconnect RTID from Sound Transit.
To get Eastside legislators to sign off on that, Murray says, he’s appeasing their concerns about light rail on I-90, and putting the brakes on it, so voters there have time to air their concerns.
Sound Transit, pointing out that the Bellevue City Council voted 5-2 to support the plan, believes its $3.5 billion plan for I-90 is good to go: two light-rail lanes down the center; adjacent HOV lanes on both sides; and then three lanes of traffic on each side.
Murray seems to be hoping that putting off ST’s plan for I-90 will end up handing off I-90 planning to the transportation commission he’s proposing, which, he argues, will end up providing more money for light rail and transit there.
Again, all of this is a bit ironic given that state Representative Ed Murray (last year) was the one who tied light rail and RTID together. He has since renounced the idea, blaming it on a compromise solution he was forced into.
Currently, there’s a bill in the house to actually put light rail and RTID under the same ballot title (a step that goes further than simply making the two votes dependent on each other). Senator Murray totally opposes this idea. At least in the current scenario, Murray contends, (if his decoupling proposal fails): If both go down because one goes down, we’ll likely see that roads killed light rail and so, light rail can come back in its own right next time.
Murray concludes: “The news is: I’m the only one in Olympia talking about decoupling Sound Transit and RTID.”