The 15-year plan that has long been rumored to go north to Lynnwood and south to Federal Way seems as if it’ll be the one to move forward according to a report from The Stranger:

Sound Transit’s board has just over two weeks to decide whether it wants to move forward with an $8 billion, 15-year plan to extend light rail to Lynnwood, Federal Way, and Bellevue this November. The plan, still in the works, is a volley to board members from Pierce and Snohomish Counties, who were unhappy with an earlier 12-year plan that included less light rail and are still debating whether to support it.

The odd thing about this 15-year plan is that there is no public information about it — it is definitely being worked on behind the scenes. Hopefully at the board meeting later today we’ll see some discussion about it. There’s an political risk here if that 15-year plan goes to the ballot, it would have to be approved by the board before Sound Transit takes has public comment period. The opposition could claim that Sound Transit hadn’t listened to voters — however a smart response would be to say that any new plan is based on feedback during the public review meetings. However, as we’ve discussed here Sound Transit is an odd position of being both a transit advocacy group and a public agency — the latter of which makes running a political campaign impossible.

One unfortunate bit of recent news is that anti-rail ads have begun airing even though Sound Transit hasn’t decided whether to go to the ballot, or what to go to the ballot with:

The Eastside Transportation Association (ETA), funded in part by Bellevue Square developer Kemper Freeman Jr., criticizes light rail in the ads, saying the money would be better spent on roads, bridges and bus service throughout the suburbs. Sound Transit’s governing board, composed mainly of elected officials from urban Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, is split over how many projects to propose.


The group spent about $50,000 on a two-week blitz, covering 16 to 20 ads a week on four or five stations, including KIRO, KOMO and KWJZ, said treasurer Bruce Nurse, who is also vice president of Kemper Development. He said Freeman is the ETA’s largest funder, but another person donated $25,000 last year. Freeman is a longtime advocate of freeway expansion to reduce congestion.

So I guess that makes us the underdogs, for now.

12 Replies to “15-Year Plan Moving Forward While ETA Volleys”

  1. Can anyone explain to me what Kemper Freeman has to lose by LRT coming to Bellevue? If anything it should bring more consumers to his bellevue shopping and increase the property values of his holdings. Am I missing something here or is he just that out of touch with reality.

    1. Kemper doesn’t want eastsiders to be within a 22-minute trainride of Pacific Place and other elements of the shopping mecca in downtown Seattle.

      And he doesn’t want youth from Seattle to have an equally-convenient ride to his Mall to hang out in.

  2. At the core of this, outside of politics, you have voters and businesspeople.

    Voters think that ST owes them local bus service and are quickly convinced that this is exactly what they should get out of any vote, which is wrong. ST is in the market of creating regional trunk routes.

    Businesspeople on the eastside fear the prospect that a city far larger and far more important than their own will suck up business day in and day out with a direct link like this. I don’t blame them, however, as the only really big cities are on I-5.

    1. “Businesspeople on the eastside fear the prospect that a city far larger and far more important than their own will suck up business day in and day out with a direct link like this. I don’t blame them, however, as the only really big cities are on I-5.”

      That’s not true. I own three businesses on the Eastside. I should know. The vast majority of businesses anywhere are small businesses, serving either a niche market OR a very local market (or both). Seattle has no little impact on any of my businesses. All of my neighbors are business owners, and they are in similar situations. Except for the Christmas tree farmer, who is 83 and couldn’t care less about anything happening 15 years from now.

      I’d chalk Kemper Freeman and his bunch as part of the right-wing car-loving ilk. I don’t think they see or think much beyond that.

  3. ETA is just one of many arms of Kemper Development Corporation. Each features the same 7 old Republican dinosaurs. Kemper controls each one of the cultish shell organizations very closely. Which is why this eccentric right wing millionaire funds them in the first place.

    The only other ETA funder (ever) with the $25 k contribution was likely Kemper buddy Bruce McCaw or Kemper Buddy John Stanton. Both cell phone billionaires. Both have benefitted greatly by one person sitting in one car in one big traffic jam.

    The Kemper Kult ad I heard today didn’t mention buses at all. In fact, it slammed on buses. The solution: carpooling and vanpooling.

    These crustacions just can’t let go of the golden age of automobiles. And they are hell-bent on dragging us back to Mayberry with them.

    Apparently, kooky Kemper hasn’t noticed the high rise buildings he’s developing create demand for light rail. Not vanpools.

    1. I had earlier done envelope math about the size of vehicles and cost effectiveness on the following metrics:
      -Size of vehicle in square feet
      -Transport efficiency (Size / Max Passengers)
      -Parking (Destination’s daytime employee population / Max passengers x Size of vehicle)

      Even at max capacity, an 18 passenger van still requires over one more square foot per person to transport people and that still doesn’t account for parking — carting around all of downtown Seattle in vanpools requires almost a million square feet of space or a parking garage the size of the Columbia Center, supposing we have 175k people working downtown. It also doesn’t account for the fact that most of those people require a lot of connections, which is the major benefit of a feeder/trunk system like light rail.

      How many people park in downtown Bellevue during the day? How many square feet would we need to absorb projected growth?

      By comparison, an S70/Avanto tram requires 0 square feet of parking in places like downtown, boarding times are faster and they’re generally safer as crash safety in a van is far less than in a bus which is far less than in a LRV.


      1. Any cardiologist will tell you that a patient with a great looking aorta and nearly-blocked arteries is just as doomed as the patient with good circulation and a torn aorta.

        Building the system from the inside out ‘may’ work, but will never reach voter consensus. What good are new train lines when the park-and-rides that support them are full today, let alone 15 years from now?

        Give us access to the existing system NOW. Or else stop asking us to pay for it.

  4. Kemper like others have said is old school and is correct to say that more buses and roads will be better for his mall (and for many others). Mass transit won’t help rich people in this area get anywhere (the best shoppers). Sad but true. They would love for the poor to be on the bus, and them in a HOT lane.

    1. You guys haven’t been to Bel Square in a few years have you? Your view is a little dated, I think. The parking garages there were nearly empty last time I was there, which was well before the recession and high gas prices.

      1. With Bel Square it all depends on when you go there; sometimes it’s empty and sometimes it’s full, but not according to any real pattern. As I recall they just finished adding another level of parking onto the west garage, so somebody must must be wanting to park there.

    1. Housing is totally supply-side. People can only buy what’s constructed, and what’s constructed is generally political. The split between urban and suburban in Portland vs Seattle areas is quite different, but the culture is identical. It’s just a matter of what’s offered.

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