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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eastlake Transit Planning Punted Until 2014

Posted by on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 1:27 PM

Instead of killing a popular plan to extend high-capacity transit from downtown to the University District along the Eastlake Avenue corridor, three city council members are delaying the plans for a year to fund other transit projects.

Seattle Transit Blog has an excellent piece today explaining exactly why the Eastlake planning should move forward, the sooner the better. Meanwhile, yesterday the council's transportation chair, Tom Rasmussen, joined council members Sally Bagshaw and Sally Clark in proposing reducing Mayor Mike McGinn's 2013-2014 transit budget plan by $1.35 million by:

· Deferring the start of the Eastlake High Capacity Transit (HCT) corridor planning until 2014.
· Delaying a study of HCT over the Ship Canal, as part of the Ballard HCT corridor.

In exchange, the council members propose shuffling transit money around:

· Adding $150,000 to speed up planning for HCT on Madison Street.
· Putting $2 million in 2013 towards improving various bus corridors identified in the Transit Master Plan.

The council will formally vote on their budget changes after next week's general election. Although the mayor's plan to study and build an HCT line along Eastlake Avenue has the popular support of South Lake Union businesses, various neighborhood chambers of commerce, and the University of Washington, "there isn't the council support for doing it sooner," says Bill LaBorde, a transportation expert working in Rasmussen's office. Part of this foot-dragging is insider politics—council members can't kill the funding as planned, due to its popularity with a wide swath of Seattleites. Still, those who have their eye on the mayoral throne aren't going to give McGinn any more victories than they absolutely have to before next year.

But it won't keep the mayor's office from gloating a little: "The council is going to delay rail along Eastlake but at the end of the day, they are affirming the mayor's efforts to expand rail in the city and invest in the Transit Master Plan," says Aaron Pickus, a spokesman for the mayor.


Comments (7) RSS

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Matt the Engineer 1
Don't count on much bus improvement for $2M, unless they're just putting paint on streets. That amount of money is better spent on planning. I hope pushing off planning for political reasons backfires on them. SLU is growing now, and it takes a long time to build transit even without pointless political roadblocks.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on October 31, 2012 at 1:36 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
So, in other words, they're shuffling pots of money around they will then use to partially pay for the Deeply Unfunded SR-99 Tunnel when you're not looking.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 31, 2012 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 3
The council is punting hoping that once light rail gets closer to opening to the U District they won't have to deal with Eastlake at all
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM · Report this
This is one of those stories where there's so much opinion flying around it takes a lot of patience to sift for facts. For me, anyway.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 31, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 5
i cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. i am the city council.
Posted by Max Solomon on October 31, 2012 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Matthew 'Anc' Johnson 6
So the Council is now taking strategy tips from Congressional Republicans? "Screw the Country (City) getting rid of Obama (McGinn) is our number one priority!" :(
Posted by Matthew 'Anc' Johnson on October 31, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
Hmm. Interesting point, @6.

Bike is the new Black.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 31, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this

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