Former Washington State Transportation Commission chairman Aubrey Davis has an op-ed explaining why Light Rail is the best solution for transportation on the Eastside. Aubrey lives on Mercer Island, which will be losing their special carpool entrance to I-90, so that means he must be really for light rail to support it this way.
The debate over whether we should invest in more highways, buses or trains has gone on long enough and it’s time that we stop talking and start building.
This means we must invest in the transportation mode that makes sense for each corridor and does the best job of moving the most people. In the case of connecting the Eastside and Seattle, the right transportation choice is building light rail across Interstate 90.
He does have something that I disagree with:
The Eastside is growing at an unimaginable rate. New office buildings, condominiums and retail centers are increasing the urban density in downtown Bellevue. In the very near future, the Eastside will be equal to Seattle in the number of jobs and residences.
Residences might be true, but Seattle is building more office space right now than Bellevue has in total. According to the Seattle PI Bellevue currently has 8 million square feet of office space, about 25% of Downtown Seattle’s 40 million, and will have 13.1 million sq ft by 2020. Some 2 million sq ft will open this year and another 2 million next year, with another 13 million sq ft in design review or development right now between the Financial District, Uptown (the Bill and Melinda Gate’s foundation buildings are 1.9 million sq ft), South Lake Union (Amazon’s campus alone is nearly 3 million sq ft), the Denny Triangle and the Selig Properties on Western.
Why is this important? Because the growth of Downtown Seattle means that connecting the Eastside to Seattle will be even more important in the future than it is today. As more people commute from Seattle to the Eastside and vice-versa, connecting the two jobs and residential centers will be critically important, and as Aubrey says, “Only light rail has the capacity and reliability to serve the cross-lake connection at the level that we are going to need”.