Michael Ennis, longtime transit opponent, has been given space on the Seattle Times opinion page this morning (with a bio calling him ‘independent’, no less!) to show us not only how out of touch he is with voters, but also with reality.
He starts his piece by calling light rail a ‘controversial battle’. Maybe in 1995 – that should have been my first clue about the theme of his piece…
Let’s begin at the beginning. He starts by claiming that Sound Transit didn’t release the potential alignments for East Link light rail until after the 2008 election. He says something true here – the DEIS came out just after the election – but then he uses that small truth to claim nobody knew what alignment options there were until that document was released. Funny, that… here’s the summary board briefing (PDF, 4.1mb) and complete board briefing book (PDF, 3.5mb) on these alignments from 2006, available the whole time on the East Link document library webpage. These alternatives came from public scoping meetings in September of ’06, one of which I attended.
So either the transportation director of the Washington Policy Center hasn’t paid attention to the East Link process for two and a half years… wait. Nah.
Then he compares East Link – a project by a single agency who has secured funding – to the Viaduct and 520. Maybe he’s right! Maybe we’ll have to wait for an RTID vote and partial funding from the state legislature and a study about tolls and a study about what to build and a city/county/state agreement for… wait. Nah.
Next item! (Emphasis mine) “Light rail will increase delay on the bridge by a third during peak commute times.” Who fact checked this? What sort of magical number massaging turns the approximately equivalent replacement (PDF) of the express lanes into what would have to be a reduction in capacity by a quart… nah.
Okay, now it’s time for the ‘stray current’ argument – which the Independent Review Team found worthy of one small bullet point (PDF again, sorry) essentially saying ‘sure, it’s not an issue, we’re designing for it’. Apparently, nobody’s ever built a bridge with rail on it before, we could electrocute the entire region at once and… nah.
Oh, and $1 billion for use of the express lanes? That’s Frank Chopp, and we’ve covered this nonsense in the past.
I’m going to skip over some of this. Yes, East Link is paid for by the East subarea. Yes, Sound Transit is performing a massive amount of outreach to determine the alignment that best serves the eastside, instead of just plopping down what their engineers say. Apparently, according to Ennis, working with the public is a bad thing.
And Ennis thinks Sound Transit promised to get light rail to downtown Redmond? I missed that part – the voter pamphlet and all the maps during the Mass Transit Now campaign said we were building to Overlake. Redmond was a dotted line, just like Northgate was in Sound Move, saying ‘we’ll start buying right of way here’. Why is that? Because Sound Transit has to have voter approval to go buy land. Ennis is behind by a year – maybe he was thinking of Roads and Transit?
Remember, Central Link is more than $100 million under budget. That budget was written eight years ago, in 2001. Sound Transit is proving that they’re good at planning and good at being financially secure, and they managed to show us this during the biggest construction boom in many of our lifetimes. So why is Ennis so bent on scaring us? Maybe it’s because all the opposition can do to fight a well planned system is to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Too bad he missed the election, kind of like how he missed our falling construction costs, not to mention all those East Link public meetings. Maybe he’s parodying the backward-thinking nature of our opposit… nah.