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Noticing one item from this letter: The proposed East Link LRT connects urban centers Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond via a defined corridor with quickly increasing density that shows ridership promise within the ST2 time frame. We judge the Seattle – Bellevue segment to be the most important in this corridor given likely ridership and system integration with other transit services.

So, unlike Ed Murray, Sierra Club doesn't want to stonewall East Link light rail. Perhaps that's the critical distinction between their proposal to decouple ST2 and RTID from Murray's decoupling proposal.

Posted by cressona | April 4, 2007 11:23 AM

RTID is still dying. Everyone knows it, but noone wants to drive the stake thru it's heart.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2007 11:33 AM

Light rail construction is well under way. Once light rail begins regular service (in just two years) everyone will want the system expanded. None of the taxes have been raised – just like the voters were promised. Projects generally are on time and under budget. Sound Transit’s professionals now are planning for coordinating roads + rails. The legislature should not remove our local control from the elected leaders on the agency’s board. ST2 will push us through to the U. We can build on the successes with ST2!

Posted by we_need_real_transit | April 4, 2007 11:34 AM

How anyone can call the current ST light rail project "on time and on budget" is way beyond me.

In case you didn't know it, ST1 was supposed to be running to the heart of the U-District by 2008, and now it won't get there until 2016 at the earliest. As an article in one the daily papers today notes - the surface route through the Rainier Valley is over a year behind schedule, as well.

And the taxes haven't been raised, just extended into infinity - new ST2 taxes will be IN ADDITION to those now being collected.

Posted by but_not_at_any_cost | April 4, 2007 12:10 PM

"So, unlike Ed Murray, Sierra Club doesn't want to stonewall East Link light rail. Perhaps that's the critical distinction between their proposal to decouple ST2 and RTID from Murray's decoupling proposal."

And let me just clarify for those of you who attacked me for defending Murray's governance proposal, WashPIRG supports moving forward with light rail on I-90.

WashPIRG has been working very closely with Sierra Club on the RTID issues. We agree on all the major points in the Club letter. Bottom line, RTID is an environmental disaster in the making and we support allowing ST2 go to the ballot by itself in November. We do not see how we can support a joint ballot if RTID adopts the draft proposal.

Posted by Bill LaBorde | April 4, 2007 12:43 PM

"And the taxes haven't been raised, just extended into infinity"

Posting before thinking again? Look, it may be news to you, but this already has been decided - BY THE SUPREME COURT.

ST can take as long as it wants, and collect as much tax as it needs, to give the voters what Sound Move promises. Your argument was tried by some other anti-transit jihadists. It came up WAY SHORT. Ever hear of Sane Transit? That was a confection of CETA several years back. Your claim is old, tired, and a loser.

Posted by Benji | April 4, 2007 12:43 PM

The Sierra Club can't decide what it supports and what it doesn't and why.

In 2005 they supported the largest road plan in state history authored by the self proclaimed transit advocate Ed Murray.

That plan had money for 405 expansion ($1.4 billion), the Cross Base Highway, SR 9, etc.

The Sierra Club supported the plan and opposed 912.

I'll take my transportation advice from a group that knows what it believes and why.

Don't believe me? Read their own newsletter.

Sierra Club defends gas tax, opposes I-912
> > by Craig Engelking, Legislative Director
> > At first, it might sound unusual: The Sierra Club defending the recent
> > gas tax passed by the Legislature. Haven't we opposed gas tax increases
> > in recent years?
> > Yes, but this package is vastly different. In the past, the state
> > planned to spend the new money on mega-expansion projects—leading to
> > more sprawl, more greenhouse gasses, and more dependence on foreign oil.
> > This time, we worked closely with allies in the environmental, labor and
> > business communities to pass the package during the legislative session,
> > and are working together to oppose the initiative attempting to repeal
> > it. Why?
> > First, most of the funds raised will go towards projects to make our
> > highways safer and to take care of and maintain investments we as
> > taxpayers already made. This package isn't about more sprawl highways;
> > it's about making our roads safer and taking care of what we already
> > have.
> > We'll invest our money in hundreds of essential safety projects around
> > the state. Replacing the Viaduct and the 520 bridge are the most
> > prominent, but others include retrofitting bridges so they can better
> > withstand earthquakes, straightening dangerous curves, more guard rails,
> > and efforts to help reduce head-on collisions.
> > The Department of Transportation is also working more closely with
> > environmentalists to reduce impacts of road construction, and in many
> > cases, actually improve the environment. An example is the
> > I-90/Snoqualmie East project, which has expanded to include
> > strategically located bridges and tunnels that allow wildlife to safely
> > travel over or under the freeway, thereby reconnecting wildlife habitat.
> > The project is gaining national attention, with both media and other
> > environmental organizations lauding it as a model for other states.
> > We recognize that the higher cost of gas has an impact on all of us, and
> > that gas prices are already high. But from an environmental perspective,
> > the Sierra Club views this as a package worthy of your support. Please
> > vote no on I-912.

Posted by ed | April 4, 2007 1:03 PM

Oh look. And Bill LaBorde can't figure out what he believes in either.

WashPIRG also supported the largest road investment in WA state history. Yes, the one put together by Bill's transit super hero Ed Murray.

Ed's plan had money for Cross Base, money for 405 expansion, money for SR 9.

Bill do you ever ask Ed Murray why he doesn't support pricing these projects?

Earlier this year, a group of anti-tax advocates put an initiative on the ballot, I-912, that would repeal the gas tax enacted by the Legislature. WashPIRG opposes I-912 because it will leave no money to repair Washington’s crumbling infrastructure.

Last spring, the Legislature passed a 9.5 cent gas tax that will be phased in over the next few years and will generate $8.5 billion dollars to fix the most dangerous high accident roads and corridors, correct deteriorating road conditions, and relieve some traffic chokepoints. It will also put a down payment on big road safety projects including the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the 520 bridge as well as the earthquake retrofitting of more than 150 bridges statewide.

In addition, the transportation package includes almost $1 billion to improve I-405, $185 million for the ferry system as well as money for more than 200 projects around the state. These projects will address known safety hazards, deteriorating roads and bridges, and other deficiencies in our transportation system.

“The Legislature and Governor Gregoire have proposed a reasonable package to fix our roads and relieve congestion,” said Wash-PIRG Field Associate Megan Blanck-Weiss. “That is why we urge Washington citizens to vote against I-912.”

WashPIRG is part of a broad coalition of environmental groups, businesses, and unions opposing I-912, including the Boeing Company, Microsoft, PEMCO Financial Services, Vulcan, Inc., Weyerhaeuser, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club, Futurewise, Washington State Labor Council, and AFL-CIO.

Posted by ed | April 4, 2007 1:06 PM


OK, so you tacitly acknowledge that ST didn't keep their promises, and the State Supreme Court said that's fine. Doesn't sound like a good reason to vote yes to me.

Blow me.

Posted by but_not_at_any_cost | April 4, 2007 1:23 PM

If I read this correctly, the Sierra Club is arguing against light rail connections between Tacoma and Seatac airport, and Northgate to Lynnwood. Their argument is that these areas are lower density, and so lower priority. But it seems to me that a connected regional system has benefits that make these segments more important than their lower population density would suggest. We need a regional system, not three separate systems.

They also mention looking into the BNSF line for rail options on the Eastside. OK, look into it, but it looks to me that the BNSF line doesn't really hit the major population and employment centers, as it was built long ago for freight. It would certainly be cheaper and easier to build a system on the BNSF line rather than buy a completely new right-of-way, but you'd end up with a system that fewer people want to use. To take just one example, the right-of-way passes by downtown Bellevue on the wrong side of 405, 200 yards or more east of Overlake Hospital. North of Redmond, it veers east into the Sammamish River Valley. It gets kind of close to the eastern edge of the denser part of Kirkland, but that's about it.

But overall, I like their approach.

Posted by Cascadian | April 4, 2007 4:18 PM


let me guess, you're one of those anti-light rail guys who did your best to slow down Sound Transit's plans - and now you're complaining about it. How quaint.

Notice how the anti-transit crowd also never complains about a single roads project being over-budget, or behind schedule? When was 520 supposed to be completed? Remember how much it was supposed to cost 10 years ago?

So typical of 'the whining class' to waste energy sitting around complaining about how late things are - instead of actually DOING SOMETHING about moving us forward.

Seattle didn't get into this mess on accident - the city is full of these full-time complainers and axe-grinders who really have nothing better to do with their lives. but_not_with_any_facts proves my theorum time and time again.

With their complaints about light rail extensions being "too suburban" it looks like the Sierra Club is also walking into "I'm a crank" territory: HELLLOOO Aren't those the people who drive the most, won't take a crappy bus - and aren't those the communities ripe for re-development?

Posted by SuperStar | April 4, 2007 4:42 PM

@7 - bull. Sierra Club has been very clear about it. They tried to hold their noses on RTID - and they support the transit capable upgrades to things like 520 and 90, but the whole RTID package as formulated is just a massive roads project that won't actually help congestion one whit.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 4, 2007 5:22 PM

All I pointed out is that Sound Transit promised a light rail line would be up and running between the airport and the core of the U-District by 2006, and that they would raise a certain amount of tax dollars to do so. It turns out it won't get there until 2016, and they since decided to extend the taxes into infinity and collect whatever they decide it takes to do so. In short, that they're over budget, behind schedule, and that they did not keep the promises they made to the voters to secure approval of this plan in 1996.

All of this is indisputably true, and it is not "anti-transit" per se to point that out - particularly in a year in which they are coming back to the voters to request additional tax increases.

One of those evil, evil activist types once asked Ron Sims how much would be too much to fund a light rail system that voters had been told would comprise 21 miles at a cost of $2 billion. He never got an answer.

BTW - I supported the light rail vote in 1996, and have ample cause for a serious case of voter's remorse.

Go fuck yourself.

Posted by but_not_at_any_cost | April 4, 2007 5:23 PM

Fair enough. They are behind schedule. What project isn't? But they are not over-budget because they went south instead of north. (nice try)

So, what's your solution then?

ST is talking about 65k riders from downtown to UW and 110k from downtown to Northgate.

Got something better for us to consider? Or, is complaining the only thing you're good at?

Posted by SuperStar | April 4, 2007 5:46 PM

They are most certainly over budget - they cut the whole segment between Husky Stadium and the central U-District out of the Phase 1 project (not to mention the promised First Hill station!)Simply redefining the scope of the project and calling that your new budget doesn't mean you're on budget - it means you're fudging the numbers. It also means you're not keeping the promises you made to the voters.

If asking public agencies (or their apologists!) to keep their promises is complaining, than I stand guilty as charged. Sue me.

Nothing about their record makes me want to hand them another blank check - and that is EXACTLY what voting yes on ST2 will do.

Posted by but_not_at_any_cost | April 4, 2007 6:04 PM

Cascadia #10

In fact, the BNSFRR Woodinville ROW does serve several activity centers: Renton, Kennydale, Port Quendall, Newport, downtown Bellevue, Overlake Hospital, South Kirkland park-and-ride, Houghton Village, Kirkland, Totem Lake, the wineries at NE 145th Street, and Woodinville. The ROW should be used for diesel LRT, freight, the dinner train, and a parallel recreational trail. Enough double track should be built for 15-minute headway service. An elevated wye could connect the ROW with the Bellevue Transit Center over NE 6th Street. Similar elevated alignments are being considered for East Link LRT.

The BNSFRR line does a much better job of serving centers and providing access than buses in the center HOV lanes of I-405. That is an inter subarea or inter county service. They serve two different functions.

Many cities that have built modern LRT have used abandoned freight rail lines (e.g., NJ, Ottawa, St. Louis, Sacremento, Vancouver, San Jose, San Diego). Some BRT lines have used abandoned freight lines (e.g., Charlotte and the LA Orange line and Ottawa).

ST2 should use BRT on I-90 and diesel LRT on the Woodinville subdivision.

The regional intercounty system is nearly in place. It is commuter rail and regional bus service. ST has already built center access ramps at South 312th Street in Federal Way and at the Lynnwood Transit Center. LRT should not be regional. The distances are too long. The south line has already been slowed by the deviation to MLK Jr. Way South.

The north-south line between Northgate and SeaTac would serve the dense urban centers in Seattle. It would have high capacity: a lite Metro system. Separate surface LRT lines in Tacoma, Everett-Lynnwood, and intra Eastside would serve those growing centers. The centers could be connected with fast frequent bus service via the limited access highways. The regional Link LRT system of ST2 would be too slow in the south and not cost-effective; have you read the low ridership forecasts? Those funds could attract more transit ridership if used differently.

What ST and WSDOT and RTID should do is ensure the intercounty bus flow by implementing regional dynamic tolling per the Sierra Club recommendation.

Posted by eddiew | April 5, 2007 10:50 PM

"Nothing about their record makes me want to hand them another blank check - and that is EXACTLY what voting yes on ST2 will do."

How typical. not_with_any_facts can't name a single alternative to a north light rail extension. He didn't even try. (probably because he's one of these Amway-style salesment who never lets you know what he's selling)

This clown also doesn't doesn't seem to understand Sound Transit is getting to the UW with no more tax dollars, effectively providing 19 of the original 21 miles. I've seen cranks whine and bitch about things in this city for years - but TWO MILES? Oh...the horrors!

But then again, ignorance is bliss, isn't it, but_not_at_any_cost?

Posted by SuperStar | April 6, 2007 12:51 PM

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