Further Delays for East Link in House Transpo Budget

The House Transportation Committee just released their 2009 budget proposal (press release here). Not surprisingly, it includes more delays for R8A, the project that would reconfigure I-90 HOV lanes to make room for East Link Light Rail:

(17) The department shall not sign the final environmental impact
statement for the east link project or negotiate an airspace lease with
sound transit for the use of the Interstate 90 center roadway for
exclusive use by light rail until completion of an independent facility
asset assessment by the joint transportation committee.

You may remember that the last study requested by the state confirmed that the I-90 bridge can handle light rail. Much of our state government remains opposed to building light rail across the water despite overwhelming support from the voters. Perhaps these representatives are under the illusion that if they keep requesting new studies, one will eventually tell them what they want to hear.

Unfortunately there isn’t much time left to influence this budget. There’s a public hearing today at 3:30pm (stream), with an executive session closely following tomorrow at the same time. Full agenda here.

We’ll have more information on all this later tonight.




Comments

  1. From the press release: “The project to replace Seattle’s vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct is allocated $2.4 billion – the same level as in past budgets. The Tacoma HOV-lane project is set to receive $1.5 billion, up from $1.4 billion in the 2008 budget. Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass will receive $600 million.”

    • It’s not a matter of available funds. This is about Rep. Clibborn and others using budget shortfalls as an excuse to axe projects they never liked.

      Newt Gingrich talked about getting rid of social programs they didn’t like by letting them “whither on the vine”. This is essentially what Eastside rail opponents in the legislature have been trying to do with light rail.

      The center roadway could be converted to HOT toll lanes, and become a cash cow to fund other pet projects. Privatized toll lanes work for buses. The trains, however, can’t cough up the cash, as SOV commuters would get the boot in favor of light rail. Real heresy for the Olympia set.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        The thing is two-way HOV would also make excellent HOT lanes and allow reverse commuters to take advantage as well.

        I’m not sure Rep. Clibborn would like the idea of ANY form of tolling on I-90 even for HOT lanes. She seems willing to forgo any federal funding for the 520 bridge in the name of keeping tolls off of “her” bridge.

      • Ben Schiendelman says:

        I think she needs to go, and I think we can make that happen next year.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Yep, and even if she manages to hang on, nothing like a tough re-election fight to give a politician a change of heart.

      • Is there anyone thinking of running against her? She was unopposed last election.

      • Therein lies the rub. Rep. Clibborn has a secure seat in her District. What she has to work for is maintaining the Chairmanship of the Transportation Committee. To do that you have to build support state wide and that’s likely where support for turning lanes of Interstate Highway into light rail for Seattle and the Eastside starts to get pretty thin.

        Not likely to get the Democratic Party to push for the ousting of a powerful incumbent. I doubt transit oriented voters are likely to go for any Republican candidate. A third party candidate in that district has less chance than a snowball in hell. Catch 22!

      • Chris Stefan says:

        How secure is Rep. Clibborn really in her district? While someone running as a democrat isn’t likely to get support from the state party that doesn’t mean they can’t mount a successful challenge.

        It just takes the right canidate and people willing to support them.

      • What it would take is a self supporting candidate. Someone who already has name recognition and it invulnerable to political attacks. Paul Allen could pull it off. Mmm, no East Link. Does that put South Lake Union in a better position or worse position? Still have the center roadway to get in to check up on business…

      • Chris Stefan says:

        No you wouldn’t need Paul Allen. While it wouldn’t be easy an unknown could still take out an incumbent without self-funding the race.

        There are ways of raising money outside the usual suspects as well.

        Really what it takes is the right person who is willing to fight for it.

        Saying an incumbent can’t be defeated gives incumbency more power than it really deserves.

  2. This looks like a much bigger impediment to East Link over I-90 than the Senate holding up $24M in funding. Especially not signing off on the EIS. That can delay/quash the entire process.

    13 (4) The Washington state ferries shall continue to provide service
    14 to Sidney, British Columbia. The Washington state ferries may place a
    15 Sidney terminal departure surcharge on fares for out of state residents
    16 riding the Washington state ferry route that runs between Anacortes,
    17 Washington and Sidney, British Columbia, if the cost for
    18 landing/license fee, taxes, and additional amounts charged for docking
    19 are in excess of $250,000 CDN. The surcharge must be limited to
    20 recovering amounts above $250,000 CDN.

    This is nuts. WSF subsidizing BC Tourism and we’re paying them to bring boatloads of money to Vancouver Island? It’s OK to charge out of State tuition but we can’t charge out of state cars a surcharge to take State subsidized ferry service to and from Canada? This run should be turned over to Black Ball who runs the service from the Peninsula. I mean it’s not like you can’t drive to Canada and take the ferry to Sydney.

    • EvergreenRailfan says:

      Can ST start studying what it would take to have East LINK go around the lake, either via SR522(re-railing parts of the Burke-Gilman Train if needed), or via the South end of Lake Washington, and Bypass Mercer Island, or does it work where Olympia can dictate to Sound Transit, and if ST tries to make it a two way street, they face the Capitol Punishment of Governance Reform or worse.

      By the way, will Senator Haugen be here in July for the opening of LINK Light Rail, or does she not like Seattle? I noticed she had time for the opening of the ferry link to BC, but while she was there, did she ask BC Premier Gordon Campbell for Victoria to put up some of the money for this route, and Amtrak Cascades as well? Time was awasting, Dissolution of the BC Legislature is fast approaching, the provincial election is on May 12th(a set date is rare for Canada).

      http://www.timescolonist.com/Keep+Anacortes+ferry+afloat/1416001/story.html

      • Transit times to downtown going around the Lake would make it a non-starter for DT and the UW (useless until 520 sinks). South end would be a Bellevue to the airport line; might as well use the Eastside Railway. Tracks on the Burke-Gillman would scuttle any north Lake route. 522 (Lake City/Bothell way) could work but only for Bothell/Mill Creek/Woodinville. Not a bad route but bypassing Bellevue/Redmond pretty much kills it.

        A tunnel seems to be the only other alternative. Rail on a new 520 bridge would be the cheapest, fastest and make the most sense but I can’t see any way the bridge is going to get redesigned so that it makes sense. A $4B tunnel tied into UW station would actually be a bargin but I don’t see the money coming from anywhere.

      • Ben went over putting Link over/under/around 520 in his post about Link crossing I-90 first, linked there ->

      • EvergreenRailfan says:

        I was trying to come up with ideas to bypass Mercer Island if this keeps up, I know a new bridge is out of the question in that area, I do not want to give up on East LINK because of a personal agenda of a state lawmaker, nor a hypocratical developer(Kemper Freeman) who probably is pulling the strings on this one, as it will make the case that he was right. Now if it is true that McNeil Island Prison is going to be closed, can the KCFD get the ferry boat used so they can run some kind of service on Lake Washington? Although I want no consolation prize for Rep. Clibborn holding this project up, the voters spoke, same ones that voted for her.

  3. Rep. Clibborn (D – SOV) is a lost cause, and has decided to use the power of the purse (yet again) to keep light rail off of “her” bridge.

    The real question is, are the rest of the Democrats going to jump off the cliff to help Clibborn “preserve” exclusive access to the center bridge deck…for exclusive Mercer Island commuters?

    I am sure that will be a winning issue back in those Democrats’ districts.

    Could it be true Senator Jarrett and Representative Clibborn didn’t see the Prop 1 vote totals for their district??

    • You know what? Screw district boundaries. EVERYONE should be telling Jarrett and Clibborn they shouldn’t let the perceived demands of their constituents screw everyone else.

      • EvergreenRailfan says:

        Can we take the ban on Sound Transit using the Center Roadway literally, and pull the 550 and 554 from it, give them back to Metro(provided East Subarea funds are used). I guess they are toiling under the dellusion that LINK will never start up. Say, is it still July 3rd?

      • Okay, so I don’t know whether that would actually be possible. But I did send this e-mail to my legislators, including Frank Chopp (though it may work at least as well as a Letter to the Editor):

        Do the Right Thing and Let East Link Happen

        In election after election, voters in the Puget Sound area have shown their commitment to transit, especially in King County. In the 1990s, they passed Sound Move to start building a regional transit system. In this decade, they voted for the Monorail Project several times in the face of obstructionism until it finally became untenable. In 2006, they passed Transit Now, taxing themselves to support King County Metro. And one year after shooting down a combined roads-and-transit measure by a handy margin, in 2008 they approved Mass Transit Now by an almost as handy margin, sending an unmistakable message that they want transit and not more roads.

        But they may be forgiven for thinking the Legislature wants to kill the good idea that just won’t die.

        Mass Transit Now approved light rail between Seattle and the Eastside, using the express lanes on Interstate 90 between the transit tunnel and at least Bellevue Way. In order for that to happen, the capacity currently using the express lanes needs to be moved to HOV lanes on the mainline of Interstate 90 – a move that will increase automobile capacity on the bridge by allowing that capacity to be used in both directions 24/7. The westbound lane between Bellevue and Mercer Island is already completed; the lanes in both directions between Seattle and Mercer Island has been funded by Mass Transit Now. The Legislature needs to show its commitment to transit and the Puget Sound region by filling its end of the deal.

        Instead Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1978 reduces funding for all three stages of the project. The Senate Transportation Committee’s budget for 2009-11 does not fund it at all, but was able to find plenty of money to widen I-405, continuing an antiquated policy of roads-centric planning that’s been discredited and doesn’t reflect the will of the people. Now I read that the House Transportation Committee won’t sign off on the environmental impact statement for Sound Transit to use the express lanes “until completion of an independent facility asset assessment by the joint transportation committee” – despite study after study showing the I-90 bridge can indeed handle the load.

        This will:
        *Only increase the price tag as the economy recovers and inflation sets in
        *Encourage sprawl instead of smart, transit-oriented development on the Eastside
        *Allow congestion to get worse as the region’s population rises and sprawl with it
        *Set Seattle behind in comparison to cities that are aggressively investing in transit, especially if (or when) oil prices rise again

        I strongly request that you not let the interests of a few rich Mercer Island residents who want to hold on to their own private freeway override the will of voters across the region, and affirm the Legislature’s support for transit and restore funding for HOV lanes across I-90.

      • I already wrote to Rep Clibborn. Just put in your address, and then click the link that says, “I know that this is not my legislator but I want to e-mail her anyway.” Or something to that effect.

      • I think it’s important to emphasize the “few” in “a few rich Mercer Island residents.” Mercer Island voted overwhelmingly for light rail. The elected representatives are listening to an elite few. Not the voices of the many. The fact an average house on Mercer Island costs $1 million doesn’t make the average resident more hostile to light rail. To the contrary – at least in the case of Mercer Island.

      • Watson51 says:

        I sent her something to this effect already. It was the second time, I didn’t get a response this time. She is in my district, and if the program is not on track by next election cycle, I will vote for “the other guy (girl).” I don’t see how she is forwarding Democratic (big D) values, and she is being crotchety. The 447 space MI transit center is full by 9am, and probably twice that are actually taking the bus. To cut out the whole Eastside is bad policy, and the carpool lane project is a bargain for those two extra lanes.

        On the other hand, is it possible that we could run link on the left lanes of the bridges, and just keep the center lanes for a tollway and another extra bus lane? Then they could still have the Lexus lanes.

  4. You know, even a wiggle of a toe on Microsoft’s part, meetings with Seattle city staff, memos to Sound Transit– anything that even remotely hints at them pulling up stakes and moving to a part of the region that can sustain the traffic generated by their workforce can easily light a fire under Olympia’s rear.

    Politically speaking, Microsoft still wields enough power on the Eastside that the mere suggestion would get them all running. Look at it this way– with Microsoft in Seattle, you’d:
    -Have less demand on 520, thereby mitigating some of the cost by decreasing traffic
    -Reduce the necessary length of the first segment of East Link, decreasing the cost
    -Focus the workforce in an area that is at the center of a massive coastal and international corridor
    -Increase demand for housing to as far north as Lynnwood and as far south as Des Moines in the interim, until ST3, when housing supply can increase further North around Link stations, increasing sustainable population without forcing sprawl
    -Office space is quickly coming online, and with increased transit connectivity throughout Downtown Seattle and more than enough parking (70% utilization at present with more spaces coming online soon), mobility would not be hindered to any great degree

    The cost savings for all of the above mean that after selling a large percentage of their Eastside space and with a healthy tax incentive, Microsoft would likely end up making money, especially if they make a move for whatever office space they can handle now while it’s cheap.

    As the market contracts and they streamline to weather the economy, Microsoft is probably as “mini-msft” as they can possibly get and is certainly in a position to move a large number of folks into 2-10 story blocks throughout a specific downtown corridor (4th Ave? Westlake-SODO?).

    It’s entirely realistic and certainly would not be difficult.

    Of course, we could save the Eastside the grief by just building East Link and getting around all this.

    • Microsoft is not moving. They are continuing to pull in operations to the Redmond Campus in line with their vision that was created long before ST2. The vast majority of Microsoft employees don’t live downtown and don’t want to live downtown. Microsoft has already given it’s answer in the form of running their own bus service. Roads, in particular the 520 bridge and 405 are of far more interest to Microsoft. If the State lets the roads deteriorate to the point Microsoft starts to think about moving they’re more likely to move to India than Seattle.

      • So much for playing this politically. :)

      • Chris Stefan says:

        I think Microsoft could still let its displeasure be known. They’ve been a big backer of transit, to the point of putting their money where their mouth is more than any other private company.

        I agree with Bernie that the threat won’t be that Microsoft is moving to Seattle, but that they plan to expand and partially relocate out of state or out of country.

        Though I’d guess Microsoft is more likely to complain about the state cutting higher education first.

    • I don’t think a Seattle move would be particularly realistic for Microsoft. They’ve already pulled back on some small Seattle offices they were going to open, meanwhile they’re completing some new buildings on the Eastside, and who would they sell all that office space to in this economy? Also I’m not sure your claim about reducing demand on 520 is correct — in my experience it seems most Microsoft employees live on the Eastside, primarily for the more convenient commute.

      That said, their voice would likely still carry some weight and it may be possible to get them on board. They’re generally pro-Sound Transit, and with ST2 already passed they certainly don’t benefit from unnecessary delays, especially given the cost increases that tend to go along with delays and the outside possibility that those cost increases may cause Sound Transit to cut East Link short of the Microsoft campus. So who do we lobby to get them to lobby?

      • Well, it was primarily an illustration of how you could portray their position and get them on board, which is something I’m not entirely sure anyone has explored as an option.

        In terms of 520, however– westbound traffic is the worst at night, eastbound during the morning. I know a lot of folks who commute that way.

      • I think the way to more political support would have been to have emphasized service to more of the Eastside with the initial build out. The existing plan to gold plates the first segment to the benefit of downtown Bellevue and emphasizes future development over the tax base being asked to pay now, ride never.

        The Bellevue Way alignment snubs Issaquah and Eastgate basically forever. Isn’t it fair to assume the ridership from downtown Seattle to Belleuve is going to be much higher than Bellevue to Overlake? Why not include an option to switch to single track past Hospital Station and take the line all the way past Redmond to give some relief to commuters on North 405 and SR522? Half hour headways would be more than adequate now for that extension of the line and the trains that reverse at Belleuve would allow late evening 9 to 15 minute headways on that portion of the route to become a reality much sooner.

      • John Jensen says:

        What’s your definition of political support? The Eastside voted overwhelmingly for this light rail plan. They didn’t approve this other plan you’re talking about… Not light rail along BSNF to Kirkland and Bothell and Woodinville. Not light rail that ignores Bel-Red and downtown Bellevue. Not single-track light rail past Bellevue. You present no evidence that those alternatives have more political support from either voters or Olypmia.

      • Eastside voters didn’t vote for any particular route since none has yet been decided. It’s hard to fathom why some of the proposed routes in the Draft EIS were even there. Redmond for example had already funded a study back in 2006 and had stated their preference for E2. All the other alternatives served nothing but to waste time and money and stir up opposition.

        I can tell you from attending the ST open house in Redmond and the Bellevue City Council meeting prior to the decision on a preferred alternative that the overwhelming support in Redmond was to build from East to West and the overwhelming support in Bellevue was to use the BNSF ROW instead of Bellevue Way. The City of Bellevue preferred route turned out to not even be one of the choices in the Draft EIS.

        As it becomes more evident that developers interests are being put ahead of tax payer interests I don’t think you’ll see a reaffirmation should this be brought back to the ballot through Initiative.

      • Ben Schiendelman says:

        Bernie, you know that often, the ‘overwhelming support’ you see at public meetings has nothing to do with what’s a good idea. Also, I think that if you took out the Surrey Downs residents, suddenly people would like B3.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Bernie, you can’t really judge overall public support for something based on the people who choose to come to a meeting and complain about it. Same reason the comments section on the Seattle Times, Seattle P-I, or Horsesass shouldn’t be confused with actual public opinion.

        The BNSF vs. Bellevue Way fight isn’t about developers it is about serving the broad public vs. some very vocal property owners. This is the same stupidity playing out with the I-90 center roadway. A handful of very vocal people don’t want to lose their Lexus lanes and the public be damned. >50% of the voters in the areas East Link will serve voted for it in one of the broadest turnout elections there has been in a long time.

        Building East to West makes no sense. There is no East O&M base in the current East Link budget. Furthermore there would be no chance of seeing any Federal money without a connection to the rest of the system. The ridership simply isn’t there.

      • It’s true that you tend to get a very bias view at public meetings. Basically those that feel harmed or threatened show up in numbers. Still I can tell you that to a person everyone I know on the eastside that doesn’t follow this closely assumed that new rail would follow the abandon ROW railbanked for future use. There’s also the good faith assumption that money would be spent to provide the most service to the most people ASAP.

        In Redmond the support for E2 was more opposition to the stupid alternatives. I didn’t know at the time City of Redmond had already done the work to determine this. This isn’t the only example where ST spins the alternatives and in the end just decides where it’s going to go anyway. There was also tremendous concern over the actual build out to Redmond being left dependent on “when funds become available.”

      • John Jensen says:

        Bernie, while everyone here knows that an alignment has not been selected, the possible and probable alignments were available before the election. Absolutely, no included a spur on the BNSF along the 405/522 corridor. None had single-tracking or 30 minute headways. These would be a massive shift from what voters approved, and would be silly to do.

      • The implied sub 10 minute headways 20 hours a day on the multiple choice Draft EIS routes are a joke. None of this are what was voted for or can even be delivered.

        Read through what was actually on the ballot, note how many times the phrase “generally described” appears; more ominously, “the Board in its discretion shall determine to be appropriate”.

        Nice how the ballot measure put buses first in all the statements. Amazing how WSDOT who is at the mercy of funding from the Legislature is portrayed as a villain on this blog and ST with it’s deep pocket construction and development supporters is the champion of the common man and saving the planet. Yet who does ST turn to for engineering and construction management? Yep, WSDOT.

        Most of the principles on this blog express a desire for more buses yet ignore the fact every dollar spent frivolously on light rail decreases money for buses (or is in denial that one red cent of ST spending is frivolous).

      • John Jensen says:

        WSDOT isn’t evil, but their mandate is to build roads — something we’re opposed to. Similarly, Sound Transit’s mandate is to build rail. Money isn’t being spent “frivolously” on light rail. We voted for a light rail plan, not for more buses. The voters want light rail. If they just wanted buses, Prop. 1 would have failed.

        Your community and the entire region approved the project. The I-90 alignment was the most certain part of the entire East Link plan. Voters approved the I-90 alignment.

        I sincerely apologize that voters see the issues differently than you, but let’s not sit here and have the same conversation that I’ve been having for the last few years. The conversation ended last November. It’s over. We’re building light rail, and the state blocking it for trivial or bureaucratic reasons is not how you develop good policy nor transportation. Charging taxpayers $1bn for a project they already own is absurd. These facts shouldn’t change just because one wants BRT or BNSF or more roads. This is not good government — it’s obstructionism.

      • Building East to West makes no sense. There is no East O&M base in the current East Link budget. Furthermore there would be no chance of seeing any Federal money without a connection to the rest of the system. The ridership simply isn’t there.

        First off building east to west doesn’t mean you’re going to operate Redmond to Microsoft before the system is complete any more than building West to East means you’re going to open Seattle to Mercer Island before the rest of the system is complete. In that light what it does is assure people in Redmond, Woodinville, Duval, Fall City, that the line won’t forever stop at Overlake. Right now I think there’s valid concern the money will run out at the end of the Bellevue Tunnel. That’s more likely the real reason for insisting on west to east.

        Second, if you do look at operations limited to the Eastside because of unexpected long term delays on I90 (technical or financial) everything except an extensive tunnel under Bellevue can operate with standard rail cars and independent diesel locomotives. All of which can be leased. Unless of course you build in right angle corners like the proposed Bel-Red corridor.

        A light maintenance facility is planned for the eastside and not building to Redmond precludes what appears to be the best alternative. Worst case is you (for some reason) electrify the entire eastside line and operate the eastside before a connection to Seattle is complete. Are these trainsets in constant need of heavy maintenance? If it’s infrequent they can be transported by truck like they are from the ship when they get here in the first place.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        What part of “there is no money for going to downtown Redmond” do you not understand? If East Link was started East to West there wouldn’t be enough money to reach Seattle. This is true even if one of the non-tunnel options is chosen for going through Bellevue.

        There is no way heavy rail equipment could be used on the East Link the track and structures aren’t built to take it, the clearances are completely different, not to mention issues like curves.

        The maintenance facility isn’t part of the ST2 budget for East link. Yes one is planned … but it isn’t part of the initial construction just like segment E isn’t.

      • So Redmond was duped. That’s what I thought. Even thought the difference between the highest and lowest alternatives for Segment D (forget about Bellevue’s Billion Dollar Baby) would cover the cost of Segment E it’s not going to happen. There folks you have it; Segment E will not be built. Can I have my vote back now?

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Huh? Prop 1 showed the Overlake to Redmond segment wasn’t funded. The extension would happen if there were extra funds (which there may still be).

        Sound Transit has made it clear they aren’t going to pay for a tunnel alignment in Bellevue. The cost difference will need to be covered by the City.

        We still don’t know what Sound Transit will select as its preferred alignment though I suspect the preferences of the City of Bellevue and Redmond will carry some weight.

        I don’t have the DEIS numbers in front of me but I have a hard time believing the difference between D2A and D5 would cover the cost of E2, particularly the 3 station option. I don’t believe D3 is likely to be selected given the cost and that it gains nothing over the D2 alignments.

      • John Jensen says:

        Chris is right. Prop. 1 specifically didn’t fund light rail to DT Redmond. It funds preliminary engineering and environmental review.

      • High estimate for D3 $870M. Low estimate for D5 $530M. Difference $340M. Low estimate for D2 $570M. City of Redmond Estimate for what was esentially a D2 alignment (2006 dollars and doesn’t cover Overlake Transit down to Sammamish Slew) $70M. There’s over $1.1B between the low and high cost estimates for Segment C and nothing in the Draft EIS or ballot measure saying anything about Bellevue agrees to fund any extra costs associated with a tunnel. Clearly a system withing the budget guidelines of what ST has proposed could extend to Redmond but it’s held hostage by the “when funds become available” which they magically determined to be one year later… yeah right.

      • John Jensen says:

        Bernie, no one thought we’d build the absolute cheapest alignment which is why no one ever said we’d be building to Redmond. Yes, if the stars aligned and we got a bunch of Federal support and built everything on the cheap then maybe we could get to Redmond (if the I-90 project isn’t delayed!). However, building a transit system on the cheap doesn’t always mean that you’ve built a good transit system. I’d rather do it right and get light rail to Redmond a few years later.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Segment E (Overlake to downtown Redmond) has a cost estimate ranging from $570 to $790 million. Even the low end of that range is far more than the difference between any two segment D alignments.

        I don’t have a reference at hand, but I’m pretty sure the Sound Transit board has said they won’t pay the cost difference between at-grade or elevated alignments for segment C and tunnel alignments. Bellevue is going to have to come up with the funding if they want a tunnel.

        Again this is an issue where the money simply isn’t there. East Link doesn’t make sense and won’t get Federal funding if it doesn’t make it to Overlake Transit Center. Sound Transit can do that within the expected funding if the route through downtown Bellevue is at-grade or elevated.

        Now it is entirely possible that when all is said and done Sound Transit might be able to get enough federal funding to cover a majority of the additional costs of a downtown Bellevue tunnel and connecting to downtown Redmond. But until that picture is a bit clearer I wouldn’t count on it.

      • I dunno, my Central District neighborhood has a ton of Microsofties. But it is a huge company :)

    • You raise an interesting point, AJ. The debate with east link now is centered on a couple of alignments. But the big showdown will be on Bellevue demanding a tunnel, while Microsoft is asking for an at-grade alignment.

      I wonder if we could have our cake, and eat it, too?

      Namely – that the state would back-off in its attempt to extort money from Sound Transit for a bridge the state apparently didn’t pay for in the first place…and Sound Transit could use that money on a tunnel for downtown Bellevue?

      See? Win-win! Unless you are one of these anti-rail legislators.

      • Ben Schiendelman says:

        Microsoft doesn’t care, they just want it built.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Yea, what Ben said. I think Microsoft’s concerns about possible Bellevue alignments mostly have to do with travel times and if the cost of a Bellevue tunnel might delay reaching Overlake Transit Center.

      • Microsoft should fund the tunnel and get a tax write off. MS is going to have a huge benefit from East link and having a tunnel means better reliability and speed to Overlake.

  5. Rep. Eddy, if you (or any other Olympia connected folks) are reading this, could you give us some thoughts? You’ve offered calming words at other times, but I don’t see any way that this is just a procedural thing, or really that it’s anything other than Rep. Clibborn trying to **** over the voters who approved East Link. Is this actually going to happen? Will Olympia really block this thing?

    • Ben Schiendelman says:

      What will be funny is ten years from now, Northgate and Federal Way will be opening, growth in the region will have moved back to the I-5 corridor significantly, the bridges will be congested, and we will absolutely remember who blocked East Link.

      • That’s what I’ve been saying ;)

        This is why this is so political, it’s play along or get screwed, basically. Too bad Mass Transit Now! doesn’t have funds enough to run ads on the Eastside saying “Olympia has decided that the Light Rail plan you voted for is invalid. They’ve doomed you to congestion. While the I-5 corridor expands and grows, the Eastside will be left in the exhaust.”

        Or pool cash to send Joni Earl to Washington D.C. with Sen. Murray and say “this is why states should not get so much sway over transit funding, when you re-do SAFETEA-LU, make sure clauses allow regional authorities and individual cities the right to use this money without state permission.”

  6. Deb Eddy says:

    Nathan: Right now, I’m focused on some stuff that the Senate did to the proposed state rail projects and what is shaping up to be a really difficult situation on SR520 concerning early tolling – and will admit to not having spent any further time researching the R8A situation over the last few days. I’m in the hearing … and Marty Flynn just testified to the committee on this very topic (R8A), especially not knowing what the “facility asset assessment” might be. There wasn’t any immediate reply from the Chair. /deb

    • Chris Stefan says:

      Rep. Eddy,
      Glad to hear you are working on the state rail projects. Keep us updated on what is going on there.

      Similarly I appreciate your heavy lifting on the 520 tolling issue. While the majority of the people here are transit nuts, I suspect we would all mostly agree 520 needs replacement and the HOV lanes included in the project are key to improving transit in that corridor.

      • Ben Schiendelman says:

        Yessir, I’d rather not increase 520 capacity, but toll the hell out of it and I’m fine.

    • EvergreenRailfan says:

      Thanks for working on that part, Amtrak Cascades has been a good service that could be better. It took California 3 decades to get to the level they are at today, but they stood by the service, and even invested in it.

  7. “Marty Flynn just testified to the committee on this very topic (R8A), especially not knowing what the “facility asset assessment” might be. ”

    I think that’s something created to pull much needed cash from thin air. Maybe they will call it “expected unanticipated revenues.” And fill a future budget hole with it. Or, if the state is going down the California bond-everything path, maybe an assessed I-90 bridge could be put up as collateral! Think of all the freeways we could build!

    But didn’t the Feds pay for that bridge back in the ’80′s? Why would the state get the cash from Sound Transit?

  8. This is the state versus Sound Transit in a negotiation over allowing light rail to have access to the 90.

    State legislators are holding a gun to the head of transit hoping to take transit sales tax funds and use them for state roads, which are basically all the state cares about.

    It is nonsense.

    Governor Gregoire can fix it, by proving she’s not controlled by the state highway department, but actually running it.

    The Senator from Mercer Island can fix this too, if he’s actually interested. Or remotely interested in being King County Executive.

    Why isn’t the Seattle Times reporting on this? It would beat columns on the future of journalism.

    • EvergreenRailfan says:

      Same thing is going on in Hawaii. There is a State Legislator, a Democrat, trying to steal recently passed tax revenue from the City and County of Honolulu(which basically is the island of Oahu) levied for building an electric transit line to balance the state budget. The legislator is a Democrat, as the Republican Party in Hawaii does not have the votes to pass it if they proposed it(in the State Senate they are down to 2).

      Now I should not have expected an easy time with East LINK. I-90 was built from Factoria east to the State Line by the end of the 1960s but the portion west of Factoria was not finished until 1994, and the biggest stumbling blocks were Mt. Baker(remember this was when obliterate rather than accommodate was the way we built things) and Mercer Island.

      http://www.allaboardwashington.org/cms/images/uploads/What_a_Mess_12.pdf

  9. They believe those express lanes are more valuable for cars that barely use them and don’t really help traffic? Do we have the same people in the Senate and House down in Olympia? If so, you know what they do best and will continue to do it. Why do these people care about there own interest over the interest of the majority? This is nothing but corruption and BS from representatives. Either go with the voters or get the hell out. Can we recall these lunatics for putting there self interest over the voters interests?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] tip Seattle Transit Blog.) Permalink | Leave a Comment | RSS addthis_pub = ‘nietsdlog’; addthis_brand = ‘HA Seattle’; [...]

  2. [...] needed to run light rail along that corridor, has recently escalated to what appears to be nearly outright hostility to the light rail plan that voter’s approved last year. One move we didn’t [...]

  3. [...] (pdf) for light rail use of the I-90 center lanes. This amendment was offered in contrast to dramatic language in the proposed budget which excluded Sound Transit from the valuation of those lanes. [...]

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