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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Our Distinguished (and Right On) Local Chapter

posted by on April 4 at 10:57 AM

For years now, the national Sierra Club has been shorthand for mainstream, yuppie, Utne Reader environmentalism. But our local chapter—man oh man. Make. It. Plain, brothers and sisters. From lobbying hard for real CO2 cap legislation in Olympia to their early support for the surface/transit option on the waterfront, our local club, the Cascade Chapter, is the real deal.

Case in point: late last week, they wrote a letter about the grating Utne Reader compromise joint ballot title for light rail and roads.

I’ve attached the entire letter below. Here’s a snippet:

Sierra Club support for the ballot measure would require fundamental changes to the project list as well as legislative changes to restructure RTID objectives. Given the inherent structural defects in RTID and adverse environmental impacts of certain projects, we do not believe that a joint ballot can gain our support. Therefore, the Sierra Club adopts the position that Sound Transit be allowed to proceed to the November 2007 ballot separately.

Shawn Bunney, Chair of Executive Board John Ladenburg, Board Chair
Regional Transportation Investment District Sound Transit
411 University St., Suite 1200 401 South Jackson Street
Seattle, WA 98101 Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Councilmember Bunney and Executive Ladenburg:

The Sierra Club is providing comments on the joint Roads & Transit investment package proposed by the Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) and Sound Transit (ST). We evaluate and comment on the proposals of the two regional agencies together since they are being presented to the public as a regional transportation plan, and the vote is presently structured to produce an all up or down outcome. We sense--as others in the region do--the need to address transportation planning and investments in a comprehensive and holistic manner.

We first summarize the Club’s position on the joint ballot proposal. The important criteria by which the Sierra Club evaluates the transportation projects is described, followed by specific assessments of the RTID projects, and then the ST Phase 2 projects. We offer recommendations for alternative projects, and suggest alternative ways of structuring a regional transportation plan.

Summary of Sierra Club Position
Sierra Club support for the ballot measure would require fundamental changes to the project list as well as legislative changes to restructure RTID objectives. Given the inherent structural defects in RTID and adverse environmental impacts of certain projects, we do not believe that a joint ballot can gain our support. Therefore, the Sierra Club adopts the position that Sound Transit be allowed to proceed to the November 2007 ballot separately. The Sierra Club could also support a separate roads funding package, whether financed directly by the Legislature or placed on the ballot, so long as the projects meet certain key criteria.

Club Principles Guide Evaluation Criteria
Emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the transportation sector account for about 51% of all such emissions in the Puget Sound region (2002 data). The impact of these emissions for climate change as documented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the potential effects this can cause in the region and throughout the world prompt the Sierra Club to prioritize reduction of GHG emissions to protect our climate and the many processes and human systems that depend on it. We must be serious about reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector given the majority share it contributes within the central Puget Sound region.

Sierra Club calls for systematic GHG emission estimates to accompany all evaluations of specific transportation projects and regional transportation plans. The region needs to prioritize the avoidance and reduction of GHG emissions so we can reduce the environmental impacts from chosen actions, especially transportation projects. Based on the immediate need to address climate change impacts and our transportation principles, the Sierra Club is using the following set of criteria to evaluate the proposed investments in the Roads & Transit plan.
• Cost-effective mobility which emphasizes moving people and goods in a well-connected and maintained multi-modal system;
• Tangible reduction in GHG emissions, other environmental effects, and improvement in human health and safety;
• Better integrated regional transportation and land use planning, and transportation investments that support smart land use and minimize or prevent additional sprawl;
• Preserve fiscal resources that allow local jurisdictions to fund transit, sidewalks, bike paths, maintenance projects, and local arterial improvement projects.

We see the reduction of GHG emissions and related environmental and health impacts as paramount in the selection of specific transportation investments. Prioritizing the movement of people and goods to maximize the productivity of our transportation system is nearly as important an evaluation factor that we consider.

RTID Policy and Program Need Revision
We identify some fundamental problems with RTID and seek changes in its objectives, the way it approaches its mission, and the principal source of revenue used to fund the road projects. RTID not only needs to evaluate the environmental impacts of its projects but adjust the selection to reduce GHG emissions and other environmental effects. The present approach does not appear to consider the system-wide effects but instead has us dig ourselves even deeper into a climate impact hole.

RTID investments should improve transit service reliability and improve mobility for people and goods, rather than focusing on movement of vehicles. The improvements to interchanges and corridors must support land use plans that encourage compact, walkable communities, not promote further sprawl development that pushes auto-dependent sub-divisions to the edge of the urban growth boundary. Freight mobility should not be used as a justification for more highway lanes when other options, such as rail, exist. A Legislative fix is needed to change the emphasis that directs 90% of funding to highways of state-wide significance, so arterials can receive more funding.

The financing of RTID highway projects should originate from user sources, related as directly as possible to the rate of use of the road network, and resulting environmental and infrastructure burden. This means no general sales tax monies for roads, and preferably no MVET either. Local option gasoline tax, sales tax on gasoline, sales tax surcharge on auto parts, and vehicle weight-based fees are more appropriate revenue sources since they apply to one’s use of the road system. Furthermore, the Sierra Club urges that RTID adopt a policy of no unpriced, new general-purpose lanes on limited-access highways anywhere in the Puget Sound urban area. Additionally, the RTID should provide the mechanism to introduce dynamic tolling (i.e., congestion pricing) of all, including existing, limited-access highways in the region. Taxes based on GHG emission levels would also be appropriate to align market forces with the region’s need to reduce our climate impacts.

RTID Project Assessment Identifies Good and Bad
Using the evaluation criteria described above, the Sierra Club assessed the proposed projects in the RTID funding package. We have classified the projects into four broad categories of acceptability that indicate whether we feel each project is worthy of inclusion in the investment plan. The best projects, which should serve as a guide for selection of other projects, are presented in Table 1 below.

The next tier of projects we judged to be marginally acceptable, but they are not particularly good to use as models for additional projects. The reduction of interchange and intersection chokepoints we generally regard as favorable, but we question whether these investments continue to be worthwhile if dynamic tolling is used on the limited access highways. Table 2 lists the satisfactory projects.
Table 1. Good Projects – More should be like these.
Project Evaluation Comments
I-5 Transit Direct Access Ramps at S. Industrial Way Builds on existing transit investments in S. King, Pierce
SR 99 North Bus Rapid Transit improvements in Shoreline Completes BRT corridor and complements Snoh. project
South Park bridge replacement Safety & maintenance; arterial
I-5/ Spokane St. Viaduct and Lander St. Improvements Safety & maintenance; arterial flow helps transit
Snohomish Co. Transit Improvements Multi-modal; local needs
I-405 from SR-520 to Downtown Bellevue only (braided ramp to eliminate weave) Safety; eliminate bottleneck so existing lanes work better
I-5 Approach Mercer Street Widening Safety; support local land use
Snohomish Co. Local Arterials (non-HSS) Arterial; fills in street grid

Table 2. Satisfactory but not Exemplary Projects
Project Evaluation Comments
I-5/ 38th Street Ramp Tacoma Mall Helps local access
SR 167/I-405 Interchange HOV to HOV Direct Connection HOV incentive; may increase VMT & GHG emissions
Snohomish Co. I-5 corridor HOV and interchange reconstruction Helps local access; may increase VMT & GHGs
SR 167 Green River Valley Corridor Congestion Relief, Complete HOV System Auxiliary Lanes HOV incentive; may increase VMT & GHG emissions
Snohomish Co. East-West Arterial Widening with Bike and Pedestrian Amenities Safety & multi-modal; may promote increased sprawl

In Table 3, we list projects that cause us greater concern due to their impacts on carbon emissions and potential for promoting sprawl.

Table 3. Concern with Design and/or Expense of Project
Project Evaluation Comments
SR-9 Widening with Transit Amenities Safety vs. GHG & sprawl
SR 520 Bridge HOV lanes, safety shoulders, bike-lane Fund basic 4 lanes first; big $s
I-5 & SR 18 Interchange (Federal Way) Safety vs. GHG & added VMT
US-2 Trestle & SR-204/Everett Arterial Access; Monroe bypass Safety vs. GHG & added VMT; transit impact unclear
SR 162 Widening and Interchange Reconstruction Arterials vs. GHG & sprawl

Finally, in Table 4, we list projects that we judge should be eliminated from the RTID plan. The scope and specific elements of these highways make it very unlikely that any revisions could modify the project sufficiently to win our favor.

Table 4. Bad Projects Viewed as Package “Poison Pills”
Project Evaluation Comments
I-5/ SR 509 Corridor Completion Tolling; sprawl; no transit +
I-405 Corridor Bellevue to Renton added lanes Tolling; GHG & VMT; big $s
SR 167 Port of Tacoma Freeway extension Tolling; sprawl/wetland; big $s
SR 704 Cross Base Highway Lakewood to SR-7 Fails all Club criteria; fails RTID internal criteria

Alternative Road Projects Emphasize Maintenance and Transit Operations
Not only do projects we rate poor fail to accomplish climate change stabilization, multi-modal mobility, and land use goals, they also consume vital fiscal capacity which would no longer be available for other important needs. Better use of large RTID expenditures includes two crucial preservation projects not currently funded: I-5 repaving (about $2B), and the basic four-lane replacement of the SR-520 floating bridge. Sierra Club suggests additional smaller projects that can make a large difference in mobility at key intersections and transit markets. These include the following:

• Third phase of R-8A to create two-way transit in the center roadway of I-90 ($55M to $60M);
• I-90, center access at SR-900 in Issaquah which would build upon the Eastgate transit center access ramps and help eastside transit routes 214 and 554;
• I-5, northbound transit lane between Olive Way and SR-520 for East King County transit routes;
• SR-520, center access from (new) HOV lanes at 108th Avenue NE for Kirkland-bound transit routes 255 and 540;
• I-5, reversible center access to and from the north at NE 50th Street for CT services to/from the University District. This could be implemented a decade before Link LRT reaches Lynnwood; builds upon the Lynnwood center HOV access ramps;
• I-405, center freeway transit stops at NE 85th Street to provide access to downtown Kirkland bus routes;
• I-5 center access from (new) HOV lanes south of SR-512 to provide direct access to Lakewood Transit Center.

Sound Transit Project Assessment

The Sierra Club position in favor of cost effective mobility that promotes sustainable, people-oriented land use patterns supports expansion of the light rail system, but prioritizes the corridors through dense urban areas where all-day two-way high capacity transit will attract significant ridership. The north Link segment to Northgate is the most important component of the entire combined package of transportation investments, and we wish to see it completed as soon as possible within the financial and construction constraints. A November 2007 vote to authorize financing of this segment is of paramount importance.

The extension of Central Link LR both north and south as far as the available funds will take it does not appear to be the most productive use of transit funds as detailed in the Sierra Club email letter to the Sound Transit Board dated January 25, 2007. Integration of high capacity transit with urban land use where well developed street grids promote denser development and walk-up transit access suggests building light rail in the designated urban centers of Everett and Tacoma. Light rail is less cost effective where long trips go through less dense areas. The urban center approach helps direct benefits to each ST sub-area, improving the chance of success with voters. We reduce the impetus for further sprawl which residents will realize to be unsustainable as petroleum prices rise and the effects of climate change become more apparent.

The proposed extensions of North Link LRT into Snohomish County and especially South Link LRT to Fife in Pierce County attempt to serve relatively low density suburban areas with less ridership potential than the primary urban centers in those two counties. Intercity and inter-subarea trips are better carried on express buses using HOV lanes and direct access ramps, and commuter rail. We support further expansion of Sounder service, particularly south, using partnerships with the Ports, WSDOT, and competing railroad companies to leverage more favorable terms with BNSFRR. The high capacity of light rail should be located where it will support the land use patterns and designated urban centers of the PSRC Destination 2030 plan. We favor ST2 fixed rail investments for Pierce and Snohomish Counties be made directly in Tacoma and Everett, respectively. In Tacoma, extensions of Tacoma Link both westward to Tacoma Community College and southward along the SR-7 corridor to PLU and Parkland have merit. Light rail or streetcar from downtown Everett south along the SR-99 corridor to as far as Lynnwood (if funding allows) connects growing urban areas with high quality service.

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. But we also urge ST to maintain reliable, quality bus service to other East King destinations by making joint light rail and bus operations possible on the center roadway of I-90 except for the floating bridge deck (we understand technical concerns preclude this where roadway is over pontoons). Further, we urge ST and other transportation partners to seriously consider the BNSF Eastside Rail corridor for use as a rail transit route, whether for commuter service or all-day two-way local eastside service. The lead time to place passenger rail in this corridor is much shorter than constructing a new line in need of additional right-of-way. Rail service parallel to I-405 is superior to adding vehicle lanes in reducing GHG emissions and preventing further sprawl.

Integration of Projects into Regional Transportation Plan
The Puget Sound region needs true integration of transportation projects to make transit function better, promote smart land use patterns, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sierra Club finds that the proposed “Roads & Transit” investment package is not a compelling model of the integration we need. Rather, it too often appears to be a political marriage of two distinct plans that do not sufficiently reinforce each other. Far from a path forward, RTID appears to Sierra Club to be a broken path.

For the region to meet its GHG reduction targets, which elected officials and citizens have and are setting for themselves, much of the needed reduction will have to come from transportation even as the regional population and desire for travel grows. Easy emission reductions, such as from increasing vehicle fuel efficiency, only counteract the projected growth in emissions due to population, and do not lead to real reductions. A comprehensive regional transportation plan needs to select its investments so as to reduce GHG emissions and other environmental effects from highways. We will need policies that reduce car trips. Use of the pricing tools described above is one way to make our transportation system more productive and reduce its burden on the environment.

The region needs to expeditiously move towards systematic GHG emission estimates for all evaluations of specific transportation projects and regional transportation plans. In the proposed Roads & Transit plan, some projects appear to accomplish multiple objectives and make the transportation system function better consistent with our principles, but many—and especially large expenditure projects—do not. The RTID package contains inappropriate projects and is fraught with structural defects that require changes in the authorizing legislation. We do support allowing Sound Transit to proceed separately to the November 2007 ballot. ST2 contains valuable projects to enhance regional mobility in an environmentally sustainable way, although some spending priorities appear inconsistent with effective integration of land use. The region needs to better address ways to reduce our climate change impacts in the design and operation of our transportation system.

We thank you for the opportunity to comment and look forward to working with our transportation partners to promote a sustainable future.


Mike O’Brien Tim Gould
Chapter Chair Chapter Transportation Committee Chair

cc: Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, Senate Transportation Committee Chair
Senator Chris Marr, Senate Transportation Committee Vice Chair
Senator Ed Murray, Senate Transportation Committee Vice Chair
Senator Dan Swecker, Senate Transportation Committee Ranking Member
Representative Judy Clibborn, House Transportation Committee Chair
Representative Dennis Flannigan, House Transportation Committee Vice Chair
Representative Fred Jarrett, House Transportation Committee Ranking Member
Sound Transit Board
King County Council
Pierce County Council
Snohomish County Council

RSS icon Comments


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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