What has begun as a matter of the state’s budget withholding $24 million necessary to build the two-way HOV lanes on the I-90 bridges needed to run light rail along that corridor, has recently escalated to what appears to be nearly outright hostility to the light rail plan that voter’s approved last year. One move we didn’t cover, but deserves mention, is the move to disallow Sound Transit from the state’s competitive Regional Mobility Grants even — one of the few ways that the state actually gives financial support to transit.
King County Councilman Larry Phillips offered a sharp rebuke of the House budget that is the source of all of the concern. Phillips once again looks impressive on transportation is continuing to illustrate that he’d be a great county executive — a position he’s running for. I’ll quote a SeattlePI.com piece from reporter Aubrey Cohen:
“I frankly don’t understand what the House transportation folks are doing,” [Phillips] said.
Voters clearly indicated their desire to see light rail soon in Mercer Island and Bellevue, he said. “Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are in the bank, waiting to be deployed.”
The state House transportation budget thwarts the will of voters by blocking Sound Transit’s East Link light-rail plan, according to [Phillips].
“While the people of this region are eager to move forward with building light rail and leave behind the endless debating and delays of the past, legislators continue to throw up roadblocks that thwart the will of voters and delay light rail,” he said, referring to a budgetprovision that stalls construction of rail along the Interstate 90 bridge over Lake Washington.
“Thwart the will of the voters,” absolutely. Well said.
Kudos to the PI and the Times, as well Horse’s Ass and Publicola, for covering this story. And to Mr. Phillips for inserting himself into this very important issue.