by GREG NICKELS, Mayor of Seattle and Chair of Sound Transit Board
There are those who say the debate over light rail in Seattle began in November of 1851, with the landing of the Denny party at Alki. Most, however, point to the defeat of the 1968 and 1970 Forward Thrust mass transit bond issues (did you know Seattle’s federal match went to Atlanta to build MARTA?) as the time when political courage failed and mass transit first became political road-kill for a generation.
My involvement began in 1988, when two young County Councilmembers (Cynthia Sullivan and me) sponsored an advisory ballot asking King County voters whether we should plan for, finance and build a light rail system with construction to start in 1995 and the first stations to open in 2000. That November nearly 70% of the voters said yes and broke the political logjam created with the defeat of Forward Thrust in 1968 & 1970.
Following the 1988 election the Times ran a Brian Bassett cartoon showing a forlorn figure on a hand pump rail car with the name “Light Rail Planning”. The forlorn figure is saying “Well…It’s a start” – I purchased the original from Brian and have posted it here.
The long awaited (!!!) line that began with the 1988 Advisory Ballot opens this summer. Sound Transit opens Tukwila, Rainier Beach, New Holly, Columbia City, Mount Baker, Beacon Hill, SODO, Stadium District, ID, Pioneer Square and 2 Downtown Stations in fewer than 100 days!
To celebrate this history making milestone I will be posting frequently with facts, figures, a little history and a few photos (maybe even a map or two) as we count down to opening day.