Chi-Dooh Li, who wrote a pro-prop 1 opinion piece last year, has a piece this time around explaining Kemper Freeman’s history in transportation activism, and why he’s wrong on light rail:

Kemper Freeman is an honorable man.

He is an intelligent man with a great breadth of life experience.

So why is he telling people in this region that they are better off riding buses than taking light rail trains?

There are great cities in this country and around the world where planners, politicians and people have managed to catch a common vision of integrated transportation systems that move people from place to place with the greatest efficiency and lowest cost. Trains, buses and automobiles all play a vital role.

Leave out trains or buses, and you have serious traffic congestion – on the highways and in the city streets.

As they say, read the whole thing. It’s an interesting look.

9 Replies to “Kemper Freeman”

  1. Its a good article and a fairly direct attack on KF. I tend to find articles with premises like they never ride transit so they dont know to be overly simplistic, but the article has more depth than just that.

    In KFs case I think there are two forces at work in his opposition to LR. KF, probably more than almost everyone else in the region, made a lot of wealth off of the suburban auto culture and development model. Call it sprawl, or whatever, but he got rich off the 1950s era pattern of suburban development.

    LR simply doesnt fit into that model, so he views LR (and its associated dense/urban development patterns) as a threat to his livelihood a threat to what he knows.

    So, yes, on one hand he doesnt understand the hardships that people dependent on our current transit system face. But on the other hand he views LR as a threat to his revenue stream. Its a lack of understanding coupled with fear of change.

    Unfortunately he has a lot of money to fight for his views no matter how outdated they might be.

  2. On the other hand, it just may be that LR actually is bad and expensive and only attracts the true believers.

    1. One troller gets bored and disappears, another one appears…ugggg.
      Yes, you are correct vanderleun, LR is bad. It kills people, encourages aggressive behavior in our streets, pollutes the air, and costs upwards of billions of dollars. Wait, were we talking about rail or highways?

  3. If the Blue Angels can shut down 90, won’t they be able to shut down light rail on 90?

    1. I think so. Of course they could always make special arangements for the planes not to fly over the bridge at certain times, allowing a few trains through. From WSDOT’s web page:

      What specific regulation forces the closure of I-90?

      Horizontal and vertical restrictions are in place to protect motorists from planes, jets, and other aircraft. Teams like the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds routinely violate these restrictions. To perform, they must acquire a special waiver. This waiver carries safety stipulations. These stipulations require a large three-dimensional aerobatic box to protect people and property. This rule establishes a so-called “clear zone” that WSDOT must respect. As a result, we must close I-90 during the annual Blue Angels SEAFAIR acrobatic performances.

    2. I was under the impression that they closed 90 to stop drivers from being distracted, looky lous, as they crossed the bridge. I have watched the Blue Angels practice over downtown: flying below tower height, flying verrry slow to fly alongside a biplane, etc; and they don’t seem to worried about crashing over downtown.

      1. Oh my god, you actually used “looky lous” in all seriousness.

        I applaud you for it

  4. I think KF’s opposition to LR comes from a sense of civic responsiblity, as well as protection of his business interests.

    The “civic responsiblity” part of it comes, for each billion dollars spent, what greater percentage of commuters will use light rail? And how much will traffic actually improve from those billions spent? His point is that the benefit from the dollars spent would be very low.

    On the other hand, if those billions are spent on HOV or improved bus transit, will the benefit improve the travel of a greater number of people? His belief, is yes.

    His business interests come into play, when he considers if shoppers are stuck in gridlock, and the proposed light rail just serves a very small percentage of travelers, his pool of customers dries up as they will make shorter trips to take care of their shopping and dining.

    BTW, his business model has improved urban density, rather than sprawl as an above poster suggested. All of his developments are across the street from each other and promote living, working, and recreating within one or two city blocks.

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