According to the Times. Good Stuff. One thing Prop. 1 lacked was a clear leader, and if Nickels can spear-head this effort while he is Chair of the Board, that would be really great.

Interesting, the only part of the region that supported Prop. 1 was the 43rd district in Seattle.

In other news for Transit-only votes, Ron Sims is ramping up his foot-ferry package that will raise property taxes slightly to provide more passenger ferry service. I love that idea, the water taxi is the most fun transit trip in Seattle.

6 Replies to “Nickels Wants Transit Only Vote”

  1. Let us go back, back, back to 1994 and to the state of Oregon.

    The anti-tax wave was cresting and MAX faced its first electoral defeat. The absolutely monumental North-South Line had passed in the Tri-Met service district as a whole (though with rather tepid support in some areas) but had gone down in flames at the state level and in the surrounding transit districts and municipalities which also had to sign on to fully funding it.

    But, instead of giving up entirely, Tri-Met created a plan for two lines in the area with the strongest support for it (that is, North Portland). The funding mechanisms used did not require voter approval and they were a very scaled-back project (no tunnels, no new track on existing bridges, for the Yellow Line there was only one small section above-grade/on a “bridge” over the Columbia Slough – which is little more than ditch at that point and for the Red Line, half of it was funded in a public/private partnership with an engineering fund).

    It strikes me that a similar model could be followed here – assuming Sound Transit’s charter allows it. Focus on building shorter and mostly at-grade lines in areas where there would be both demand and weak opposition. Avoid funding mechanisms that rely on voter approval, and, if you must go to the voters make certain the excises and taxes are “fair” or paid for mostly by other people (a la SAFECO Field and Qwest Field).

    In other words, look into a line from Montlake down Pacific/34th or 65th toward Aurora and Ballard. Make it a City of Seattle-only vote. Get it at grade as soon as possible from there in any event.

    This could even work on the Eastside, get Google, Microsoft, Nintendo of America on board for a line connecting Bellevue-Kirkland-Redmond and make use of the mostly defunct wide-gauge right of ways (that haven’t already been turned into bike trails) and stay at grade.

    Sorry for the long post.

  2. cjh has some damn fine points. And just link downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle with a light rail via 520, since it’s getting rebuilt anyways (probably with a light rail push).

  3. Unfortunately, I’m worried about a “up yours” voting bloc in West Seattle if these plans become reliant on citywide votes.
    There are no precinct by precinct results yet (that I’ve seen) but I would not be terribly surprised if West Seattle as a whole was polling less than 40% in favor. They were seriously jerked around by the monorail saga as both the main beneficiaries and the main losers. Meanwhile the just-failed plan and my ideas offer them very little as, really, the only stretch which could be developed cheaply would be something along 509 to connect to the line Sea-Tac. Which is nice and all, but the potential ridership for that is way less than a connection to downtown Seattle.

    Oh, and I forgot about this one little fly in the ointment of using the Woodinville Subdivision right-of-way. – Just approved to turn the thing into a nature trail.

    On a more positive note, support for rail is likely to be much, much higher in the 43rd than even the Prop 1 votes show. It wouldn’t surprise me if the anti-road vote there was way above even the Sierra Club’s claimed 11% for voters as a whole. Let’s focus on places like that where battles can be won.

  4. And this is a band-aid of sorts but electric trolley bus coverage could be expanded and extended for, once again, relatively little. Also treat them like real trolleys (even though they look like buses) and simply let people board (and have occasional fare inspectors board to put the fear of God in ’em).

    This is actually one area where we have a leg-up on Vancouver, BC and Portland. Vancouver hasn’t modernized their electric trolley bus stock since, I swear, the early 1960s. Portland has none at all.

  5. WHAT THE HELL?! Im totally confused. I thought we voted last year to take the viaduct down and expand transit…

  6. No, all Seattleites did was vote to do nothing at all.

    I know one of the contributors to this blog is not a big fan of using the Woodinville Subdivision right now because of the serious routing problems and the fact that some of its main proponents was/are stalking horses of Other Interests. But rail “banking” – which is what King County is going to do – is a bad, bad idea. Imagine trying to put a line on the Burke-Gilman trail which would actually make sense viz. the Montlake to Ballard idea since that IS where an interurban line used to run. Once it’s turned to recreational use it will be too large of a fight to get back into practical use.

    Anyhow, there are three stretches of the Subdivision that already run through areas of substantially dense commercial, industrial and/or residential development. Boeing Field to Renton (~6 miles). Woodbridge to Totem Lake (~8 miles). Downtown Redmond/Redmond Town Center up Willows Road to the golf course (~2 miles). The first of these is the most important considering the western terminus is very close to Central Link. It still bypasses Southcenter but at the same time, it links the new higher density developments in Renton with Sea-Tac and downtown Seattle along with the existing office parks and condos in Tukwila and Renton.

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