Key Detail Missing

The P-I today has one tidbit about the plan that the Times didn’t:

Snohomish County’s board question the plan’s call to use Snohomish County money to finance the segment as far south as 145th Street in King County.

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said his county is willing to finance a rail segment as far into King County as 185th Street, as was agreed for last year’s ballot proposal. He said his county is reluctant to support a package that extends its tax obligation farther south than that, preferring to spend that money on expanded Everett-to-Seattle bus service.

That sounds really generous of Reardon, except that 185th Street is the last stop in King County. Reardon is offering to fund any part of the line that couldn’t conceivably be used by a southbound King County resident.  Awful big of him.

I can sympathize with his position to some extent, but the P-I’s framing of this really ought to include that very important fact.

Comments

  1. brad says

    Can’t resist the snark, can you Martin?

    Oddly enough, people like to spend their tax dollars in their own jurisdictions. Lots of people move to Snoho so they don’t live in KC.

    To offer to build INTO KC is a huge step for Snoho.

    I’m sure they’ll appreciate the shitty attitude from the King County folks, like yourself. A great way to generate regional support.

    • Transit Guy says

      Yes, Brad, “Lots of people move to Snoho so they don’t live in KC” but then many, if not most, of these folks commute back into KC. Point being, tracks and rail service in KC benefit Snohomish County taxpayers.

      Reardon chooses to ignore this truth, even if many of his constituent don’t. At Sound Transit’s Lynnwood meeting, on future ST2 plans, folks were openly discussing using Snohomish County dollars to build in King County, for the benefit of Snohomish County residents. This is called Regionalism, and many citizens understand it, even if their “leaders” do not.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      But Brad, SnoCo hasn’t offered to build into KC — unless you count 20 blocks of track that doesn’t serve any King County stations!

      I wouldn’t characterize the phrase “I can sympathize with his position to some extent” as “shitty attitude” or “snark”. Sub-area equity is something I’ve defended in the past, but Reardon doesn’t deserve a cookie for the 185th offer — that’s pretty much the minimum that Snohomish County could reasonably provide.

      If the SnoCo delegation does endorse this plan and chip in from 145th North, then they will be deserving of praise, but not before then.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      I think you have a great point, Brad. I think Snohomish County should pay the full cost of any I-5 improvements in Snohomish if they don’t want to build a few blocks into King – mostly to service their own residents!

      Oh, wait. I forgot – we’re a region. Sound Transit gets to listen every day to people complain about how Sounder North is ineffective – but Snohomish County politicians demanded it. How about they help create some positive PR for once?

      • brad says

        Sounder East could be built for the same cost as that one disputed mile of light rail.

      • Ben Schiendelman says

        Even if that were true, that’s a handful of riders a day compared to 20,000 or more for connecting to Lynnwood.

  2. says

    At least the PI actually indicated that funds in Snohomish County only goes to projects in Snohomish County, and didn’t keep feeding the “waah, our tax dollars are going to projects that will only benefit King County residents” whining.

    I’m sure Reardon would spin it as “well, we can’t spend ALL our money on rail, we have to save SOME money to improve buses and Sounder”.

  3. ted says

    “Reardon is offering to fund any part of the line that couldn’t conceivably be used by a southbound King County resident. Awful big of him.”

    That really isn’t the right attitude, even if Reardon is acting the way he is. The distance between NE 185th Street and the county line is about 1.05 miles. How much would it cost to build that segment? According to my research, light rail lines cost around $15 million to over $100 million per mile, but on average, the cost is now around $35 million (at least in the US). Depending on how the line will be built and any additional costs, I predict that $35 million will go up (about $80 million per mile for an elevated structure). That amount could probably pay for other improvements needed in Snohomish County, such as park & ride improvements, which apparently will not be completed by 2023 because of light rail extension into Lynnwood.

    $80 million could pay for (according to ST’s website):
    – one $64.1-70.6 million Ash Way park & ride garage
    – one $67.9-78.1 million Everett Station improvements + garage
    – one $69.9-80.4 million Mariner park & ride improvements + garage

    Now, if you’ve ever been up in Snohomish County recently, you must have seen how many cars are packed into these park & rides. So, I guess you could say Snohomish County taxpayers are giving up alot to build just that little segment of light rail that will help regional connectivity.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      Ted,

      I don’t doubt that the tens of millions could be spent elsewhere to some effect. But who does that 1.05 miles benefit?

      Although there might be occasional trips from Seattle to Alderwood, and so on, it’s clear that the vast majority of riders on that segment will be Snohomish County residents.

      So that’s the narrow “who does this benefit?” argument. Let’s take a regional perspective. The North King funds have to be used to benefit North King, by law. So if you want to take the tens of millions from that budget pile, you have to cut something else. From the diagram, you have the First Hill Streetcar, Rainier Ave. Link Stop, and SR 520 BRT. Speaking as a citizen of the region, which of these would you cut for the Ash Way parking garage?

      Or, you don’t build that mile at all, and either SnoCo gets a light rail to nowhere, or lots of buses and Sounder.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      Ted,

      Reardon won’t vote for the package without light rail to Snohomish – he’s made that clear. This is the only way he gets light rail. Sound Transit wasn’t planning to make it all the way to Lynnwood, but Reardon is forcing it and then complaining about it!

  4. Cascadian says

    One thing my understanding is really vague on is exactly how sub-area equity is calculated. Some people seem to interpret it as construction entirely within the sub-area being funded only by that sub-area, but that’s not what it means. On the other hand, Sound Transit doesn’t seem to be using its best ridership estimates for each station-to-station segment, figuring out what sub-area those riders are likely to be from, and then allocating the expenses proportionally.

    But any compromise between those two positions seems to leave a lot of room for arbitrary judgments about who gains.

    I’d like to see the cost of each segment estimated, then the proportion of riders originating in each sub-area estimated, so that everything balances out. Instead, the whole process of determining sub-area equity is a mysterious black box.

  5. newsaholic says

    Reardon’s view is short-sighted. The long-range plan is to get light rail all the way up to Everett. Snohomish county won’t be able to afford that on its own because it doesn’t generate enough tax revenues. It will take money from other sub-areas to build light rail all the way to Everett. This regional system needs regional thinking and regional funding.

    • Ben Schiendelman says

      I think that’s the idea. We can’t justify light rail into Snohomish county without connecting to Seattle – it just wouldn’t get the ridership. If you think a bridge to nowhere in Alaska sounded bad, try a train to nowhere…

  6. eddiew says

    ST Link LRT tends to cost about $200 per mile. The national averages include many lines built in available rights-of-way. The north line will be elevated or in retained next to I-5.

    The application of the ST subarea rules are flexible enough for Snohomish County to pay for the mile of alignment.

    The key advantages for Snohomisish County transit riders are improved connections to the University District and Capitol Hill as they are two congested urban centers where buses go slowly. The peak direction trips to downtown Seattle can and are well served by buses on the I-5 reversible lanes.

    ST Sound Move has already connected with Lynnwood and built three center access ramps. How about bus for the inter county trips? How about a center access ramp in the University District? The subarea equity rules do not require the same mode, only proportional expenditure to the revenue raised.

    The Link LRT stations in the I-5 envelope will never develop into pedestrian centers; they will be dominated by the car and the freeway interchanges.

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