Link train. Photo by The Lebers.
Link train. Photo by The Lebers.

Whew, these have been some busy news days!

  • Metro’s funding gap — which could result in 20% service cuts unless action is taken — is receiving some additional focus this week, with an Op-Ed piece written by King County Councilman Larry Phillips. Phillips is running for King County Executive and has been showing a strong commitment to transit. This is a great Op-Ed, a must read! At one point it zeroes in on an issue that we brought to his attention a few weeks ago: current policy would have the cuts affect Seattle the deepest, and then when the hours recover we’d get a diminished return. “Unfortunately, the policy that’s currently on the books for cutting Metro service would do the most harm to people who rely on the bus today. This must be changed.” It’s great to hear him take our concerns seriously, so be certain read the full piece.
  • We’re not the only local source talking about the state’s failure to pony up for R8A: Publicola and the Slog have both posted about it, with strong arguments for the state funding the span as it committed. Hopefully we’ll see a mention in the Times or PI soon, and then we’ll need to get action from some of our local State Reps and Senators who are interested in delivering for their districts.
  • Capitol Hill Seattle has a nice recap of Wednesday evening’s Sound Transit forum on Capitol Hill’s future Transit-oriented Development (TOD). After construction is completion for U-Link, ST will have about 3 arces of land to develop on. While most people expect the usual six-story apartment/condo projects, ST is gathering feedback on possible public amenities. One idea that appealed to me is the thought of a daily farmer’s market — that’d be great! ST has a unique opportunity here to define the heart of Capitol Hill and I applaud the community for being so involved.
  • Spender Agnew, a reader from all the way in Minneapolis, has blogged about his city’s rail network compared to some peer cities. One of those peer cities, of course, is Seattle. Quiet an interesting read, particularly the graph that shows the length of the rail network on a time axis.
  • Some neat transit articles in the news: Eastside Business Journal talks about the Bus Buddy program that Sound Transit operates. Pierce Transit is rolling out buses that’ll talk to you — and announce which stop you’re coming up to. Slog talks about some TOD in Northgate that they’re not a fan of – Ben went to this event as well and liked it much more; he’s working on a piece about it. Another story on Slog tells us about the residents around the Othello Link station who worried about losing their local Safeway to re-development.

(Photograph from flickr user The Lebers.)

24 Replies to “News Round-Up: Heat on R8A”

  1. State senators cite reduced gas-tax revenues as a reason for axing the $24 million for R8A/I-90 HOV improvements, according to Erica C. Barnett’s post on Slog. And yet Mayor Nickels thinks that $2 billion in state gas-tax money should be spent on a 1.7-mile-long tunnel on the waterfront? Our priorities are off kilter, and Mayor Nickels is not representing Seattle’s interests well enough. We’re getting creamed in Olympia. Hello, McGinn for Mayor.

    1. Isn’t it a bit early for silly season? This isn’t Nickel’s fault. Who knows if we’d even have a light rail connection to fret over if it weren’t for Nickel’s hard work for ST2?

    2. Gary, the state has had many many, opportunities outside the gas tax to pony up the money for R8A. Just one month ago they had $300 mn in stimulus cash they could have put toward any project they choose to.

      As you point out, the state spends literally billions of our gas tax money on SOV lanes all around the state and can’t find $24 million for hov lanes on I-90. Not transit on I-90, not transit for Seattle, but two-way HOV lanes that will increase allow for better bus service and driving across the lake in addition to allowing for light rail to be built. This has nothing to do with Nickels, and everything to do with Olympia.

    3. Part of being an effective negotiator is playing well with others and respecting their needs. You are completely right about misplaced priorities, but take on step farther back to realize what the problem is.

      STBlog recently spent a great deal of energy on the subject of the legislature dropping all stimulus funding from Seattle – one of the most well off areas in the entire country. If you haven’t noticed they funded the Spokane Street project, a good idea, a left the Mercer Street project off, a questionable one.

      And still probably more than you folks deserve.

      1. Nickels did make a mistake on this one. From what I understand, he had an agreement with Gov. Gregoire – ostensibly the democratic party leader in Washington – but that was not what the legislature wanted. Gregoire has twice now had the Seattle area to thank for her election, but the democratic majority in Olympia has to win their battles in the individual districts.

  2. The correct way to cut bus service hours is on the basis of subsidy dollar not service hours. Seattle routes are more efficient and would therefore receive fewer cuts.

    The subject of increasing transit service, and useage, is a tougher one. The 40/40/20 was a compromise on that subject which was appropriate for its time and may need to be revisted.

    Do be aware though that if you seek to cut transit service to the Eastside and South King you are either directly arguing for more road funding for those areas or engaging in criminal extortion via the tax system. (That whole taxation without representation thing, if you will recall)

    Phillips is pandering to you, not leading you. He should be ashamed of his punk politics. We need true leaders not ignorant spoiled punks cum tyrants.

    1. Think we could do without the name calling? This is a transit blog, not the comments section of the Seattle Times.

    2. Given the severity of the cuts required, Metro needs the flexibility to make service cuts in the most sensible way possible. Furthermore once funding is available to add service hours back those hours need to go back to where they were cut from.

      As it stands now Seattle loses 20% of its service hours and doesn’t get them back until both South King and East King have nearly double the number of service hours they have today.

  3. Anyone tracking the SR 520 tolling bills? Last time I checked, neither made any provision for funding transit operations with toll revenue. Those new buses Metro is planning to buy with their part of the Urban Partnership grant funds won’t add any new service on SR 520 without additional operating revenue from somewhere.

  4. The Senate (Haugen) killed all rail projects in Washington. Yes, all, including Point Defiance.

  5. I’m still wary of the Farmers Market idea since Milwaukie, OR got one that seems to be a parking lot covered over with concrete and benches and little white lines to put up stalls.

    1. I’m thinking the first floor of a condo/apartment project. Some portion will be an in-door farmer’s market and the rest retail. Yeah, I think a parking lot/flat, exposed market would be a tremendous waste of space.

      1. The alternative is the staggeringly successful market in VancWa. They have an outdoor element toward Esther Short, but they have a large portion of it below condos indoors and I believe most of the year it’s open.

    2. Yeah, it seems like there are other places for it. The Washington Mutual parking lot, for instance, or hell, the middle of the street!

      Just thinking about it more, there’s that lot next to Taco Del Mar, the lot by the KFC, lots of places. I just want the Wamu lot because I live on the corner of Harvard and Thomas. :)

      1. Remember, too, that the funding for Farmer’s Markets is mostly dedicated to local products. I don’t know if making too nice a market would be good since it’d lay unused most of the year OR they’d end up having to charge high rents because funding was shuffled downward since it’s non-local foods. The Locavores would bite and bite hard.

        I think keeping it in a parking lot would be perfect. Just don’t say “the old KFC across from Cal Anderson” too loud or ECB will come and say, “Hey, that’s next to the Stranger offices… BEST IDEA EVER” and get Sloggers to agitate for that!

      2. Are there going to be many parking lots left for a farmer’s market?

        I don’t think it’s imperative to the future of the region that we have a daily or otherwise year-around farmer’s market in capitol hill, but I think that’d be a cool/community-oriented use of some space in projects that are certainly almost all going to be out of most of our price ranges.

        More flimsy things like “community space for meeting” doesn’t sound that appealing to me. Seattle Central has space for meetings, as do coffee shops, etc, you know? But I’m a big foodie and I go to the Broadway farmer’s market every week when it’s open, so I definitely have a horse in this race.

      3. Pike Place has a sort of co-op set up to keep the stall rents low and local producers.

        There are a lot of ways to provide variety to keep a covered market busy all the time, for example Old Spitalfields Market in London has mini restaurants and shops all the time, and follows the following schedule for market stalls:

        Thu: Antiques & vintage
        Fri: Fashion & art
        Sat: All shops & no stalls
        Sun: Busiest day - all shops & all stalls

        Additionally there are special events like concerts and festivals that would make a year-round covered space a major community resource.

  6. Also, for what it’s worth, the Governor’s e-mail form regarding the budget (http://governor.wa.gov) sends e-mails that are high priority, meaning it’s a good way to get attention to R8A if you get enough people e-mailing her about it. She’s the main executive, so in this case, her one vote counts a lot.

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