by GREG NICKELS, Mayor of Seattle and Chair of the Sound Transit Board

This is the last installment in my recollections leading up to the opening of Sound Transit’s first Light Rail line on July 18, 2009. In six previous installments I have reflected on the highs and lows of the twenty-one years that I have been involved in this epic journey.
In many ways, the ground breaking on November 8, 2003 ended the political debate over whether mass transit would serve Seattle (though ST 2 engendered a vigorous debate on whether it should be extended beyond Sound Move).
In my first month as Seattle Mayor I gathered all the City staff working on the project and let them know our job was to team with Sound Transit to make sure the system got built — as promised to the voters. This was a relief to many staff who really did not know whether the previous administration supported or opposed building the project.
Once we broke ground, I enjoyed visiting the construction impacted neighborhoods twice a month and talking with the property owners, shopkeepers and residents; trying to anticipate, prevent and solve problems. In doing this I was taking a page from Seattle City Councilmember George Benson’s work during the construction of the Downtown Seattle transit Tunnel in the 1980s.
Like grief, dealing with a huge project in your neighborhood is dealt with in distinct stages. Fear, anticipation, resignation, relief and excitement among them. Seventy-five percent of the small businesses along the MLK portion of the route at the start of construction are still there – I’m proud of that. The street has been transformed, as has the neighborhood. And the presence of Light Rail will connect the people of the Rainier Valley neighborhood to lots of new and exciting job and educational opportunities – just a short train ride away.
Columbia City is approaching this opportunity most creatively, going so far as to have pedicabs available to whisk people from the station to their historic business district nearby where Light Rail riders can enjoy great restaurants, a farmer’s market and theater.
This first line will be warmly embraced, especially when the thirteenth station – SeaTac Airport, opens late this year. But it is only the beginning. The next line, north from downtown to the University of Washington, received its $813 million FFGA in December and has already broken ground. Those two underground stations on Capitol Hill and at Husky Stadium will basically mark the completion of Sound Move and will open in 2016.
After the defeat of the infamous doomed shotgun marriage of  Roads and Transit in 2007, there was little political appetite to explore a transit ballot for 2008. Given our experience in 1996 (and $4/gallon gasoline), I was convinced that the 2008 Presidential ballot was the right one for light rail. In addition I believed that the Legislature would take away the region’s ability to place transit on any future ballot (as they had stopped Sound Transit in 2006) and take the taxing authority for highways. Fortunately there was a core of ST Board members willing to engage the issue and we went to work. Ultimately on July 24th all but two Sound Transit Board members agreed upon a plan and it went on the ballot.
Sound Transit 2 passed with 57.02% yes vote on November 4, 2008 – 60.5% in King, 54.21% in Snohomish and 49.08% in Pierce County. Light Rail will expand north from the University to Northgate and on out to Lynnwood, south of the airport to Federal Way and east across Lake Washington to Bellevue and out to Redmond. These projects will be complete in 15 years. I have no illusions that there will be no further challenges in building such an extensive set of projects (such as the current economic crisis) – there is a lot of work ahead! But when complete, 70% of the residences and 85% of the jobs in Metro Seattle will be within an easy bus ride, bike ride or walk of a rail station. With a capacity of one million passengers a day, it will transform how we get around.
I’ve wondered — how often does someone get to see through such a journey in their career? From the 1988 advisory ballot through passage of ST 2 and opening the initial line it has been an amazing adventure. While certainly not easy (1995-96 and 2000-01 come to mind!), it has been an incredible honor to work with the elected officials on the ST Board, the staff (Joni Earl for instance) and particularly the interested citizens (Mona Lee and Dick Burkhart come to mind) who have engaged, often passionately in this saga. I do wish the voters had approved the Forward Thrust plan in 1968, but what a ride my generation would have missed! For someone who wants to make a difference in people’s lives it has been the chance of a lifetime.
Waiting Paitiently for Passengers - thanks to Furchin
Waiting Paitiently for Passengers, by Furchin

This is the last installment in my recollections leading up to the opening of Sound Transit’s first Light Rail line tomorrow. In six previous installments I have reflected on the highs and lows of the twenty-one years that I have been involved in this epic journey.

In many ways, the ground breaking on November 8, 2003 ended the political debate over whether mass transit would serve Seattle (though ST 2 engendered a vigorous debate on whether it should be extended beyond Sound Move).

In my first month as Seattle Mayor I gathered all the City staff working on the project and let them know our job was to team with Sound Transit to make sure the system got built — as promised to the voters. This was a relief to many staff who really did not know whether the previous administration supported or opposed building the project.

Once we broke ground, I enjoyed visiting the construction impacted neighborhoods twice a month and talking with the property owners, shopkeepers and residents; trying to anticipate, prevent and solve problems. In doing this I was taking a page from Seattle City Councilmember George Benson’s work during the construction of the Downtown Seattle transit Tunnel in the 1980s.

Like grief, dealing with a huge project in your neighborhood is dealt with in distinct stages. Fear, anticipation, resignation, relief and excitement among them. Seventy-five percent of the small businesses along the MLK portion of the route at the start of construction are still there – I’m proud of that. The street has been transformed, as has the neighborhood. And the presence of Light Rail will connect the people of the Rainier Valley neighborhood to lots of new and exciting job and educational opportunities – just a short train ride away.

Columbia City is approaching this opportunity most creatively, going so far as to have pedicabs available to whisk people from the station to their historic business district nearby where Light Rail riders can enjoy great restaurants, a farmer’s market and theater.

This first line will be warmly embraced, especially when the thirteenth station – SeaTac Airport, opens late this year. But it is only the beginning. The next line, north from downtown to the University of Washington, received its $813 million Full Funding Grant Agreement from the Federal Transit Administration in December and has already broken ground. Those two underground stations on Capitol Hill and at Husky Stadium will basically mark the completion of Sound Move and will open in 2016.

After the defeat of the infamous doomed shotgun marriage of  Roads and Transit in 2007, there was little political appetite to explore a transit ballot for 2008. Given our experience in 1996 (and $4/gallon gasoline), I was convinced that the 2008 Presidential ballot was the right one for light rail. In addition I believed that the Legislature would take away the region’s ability to place transit on any future ballot (as they had stopped Sound Transit in 2006) and take the taxing authority for highways. Fortunately there was a core group of ST Board members willing to engage the issue and we went to work. Ultimately on July 24th all but two boardmembers agreed upon a plan and it went on the ballot.

Mayor Nickels at U-Link Groundbreaking, by Steven de Vight
U-Link Groundbreaking, by Steven de Vight

Sound Transit 2 passed with a 57.02% yes vote on November 4, 2008 – 60.5% in King, 54.21% in Snohomish and 49.08% in Pierce County. Light Rail will expand north from the University to Northgate and on out to Lynnwood, south of the airport to Federal Way and east across Lake Washington to Bellevue and out to Redmond. These projects will be complete in 15 years. I have no illusions that there will be no further challenges in building such an extensive set of projects (such as the current economic crisis) – there is a lot of work ahead! But when complete, 70% of the residences and 85% of the jobs in Metro Seattle will be within an easy bus ride, bike ride or walk of a rail station. With a capacity of one million passengers a day, it will transform how we get around.

I’ve wondered — how often does someone get to see through such a journey in their career? From the 1988 advisory ballot through passage of ST 2 and opening the initial line it has been an amazing adventure. While certainly not easy (1995-96 and 2000-01 come to mind!), it has been an incredible honor to work with the elected officials on the ST Board, the staff (Joni Earl for instance) and particularly the interested citizens (Mona Lee and Dick Burkhart come to mind) who have engaged, often passionately in this saga. I do wish the voters had approved the Forward Thrust plan in 1968, but what a ride my generation would have missed! For someone who wants to make a difference in people’s lives it has been the chance of a lifetime.

The author is the mayor of Seattle.

76 Replies to “Guest Post Series: Almost There”

      1. I guess that is what I’m suggesting. Force it to open, though? I doubt it would just organically start up of its own volition.

      2. Okay, let me put it this way.

        Here’s the process to restart service now:
        1) Rebuild the carbarn (12-18 months from approval, let’s say open in 2011)
        2) Operate until mitigation and remediation begins for the AWV tear-down
        3) Close system down (2012-2013)
        4) Tracks are ripped up
        5) AWV taken down in 2016
        6) Rebuild trackwork, carbarn (2 years-ish)
        7) Waterfront Streetcar opens in 2018

        OR!

        1) Rebuild carbarn, redo trackwork in 2016
        2) Open in 2018

      3. What money would fund either of those projects?

        The streetcar funds in the AWV project are for 1st avenue.

      4. Had the sculpture museum project been forced to replaced the maintenance barn, we would have had the waterfront street car running for the last 5 years…

        Run waterfront street car
        1982 -> 2016 (if they ever get their act together to tear down the viaduct)
        ..rebuild tracks
        open 2018.

        Instead what we have is
        1982 -> 2005
        ..wait…2018? Maybe?? see viaduct tear down schedule.

      5. Where were you when they were planning the Olympic Sculpture Park?

        Seems to me that you’re rushing into a battle you never even really fought.

      6. Worse, it’s a park full of large metal objects. I’d think a barn would fit quite well into the park. Any real artist could have found a way to fit the barn in the theme of the park…

      7. The removal of the maintenance barn was an inside deal between Mimi Gates and Greg Nickles. She wanted it out, and said otherwise they’d put the sculpture garden in some other city..

        There were no public hearings that mattered on this.

      8. I don’t mind if it has to wait until they make new Waterfront Park, but I want to make absolutely sure it will be a part of that.

      9. First, KILL the stupid 1st Avenue Streetcar idea.

        @ AJ, everyone was told that the barn would be replaced after the Sculpture Park was completed.

        Silly us for trusting elected officials. And then folks wonder why we don’t trust the same officials who promise us that we’ll see a pedestrian-friendly waterfront and increased transit, but not until after they build their Cadillac tunnel on the waterfront.

      10. Ben, so far the official word is the Waterfront Streetcar will be part of the new Alaska way. Unfortunately due to the whole long drawn-out process with the viaduct there is no real fire under anyone’s feet to work out a solution at the current time. Still there is no reason NOT to restore the waterfront streetcar once the viaduct comes down and Alaska Way is rebuilt. Hopefully it can also be extended to the pier 90 cruise terminal and Smith Cove Park at the same time.

        Three things that annoy me about the whole fiasco with the George Benson Streetcar shutting down:
        1. Everyone involved knew damn well the sculpture park was going in but still didn’t put a solid solution in place for replacing the car barn.
        2. A car barn could have been incorporated under the sculpture park with little to no impact on the park itself.
        3. Whatever pot of money was used to build the sculpture park should have had to pay for a car barn replacement.

      11. Chris, where’s the official word say that? I only see 1st Avenue.

        I stopped supporting the SAM after the sculpture park. It was federal money, basically. They had an empty promise about the streetcar.

      12. I’ve heard from officials that they think the 1st Ave Streetcar will go in, and that it will replace the WFS. I think that’s stupid, for a couple reasons:

        1. The 1st Ave Streetcar and the Waterfront Streetcar serve/would serve totally different areas. I wouldn’t walk up from the waterfront to get on a streetcar.

        2. We (Metro) already have all the WFS equipment besides the maintenance barn. The tracks are in place, the stations are in place, the overhead wire is in place, wayfinding signs point to it. The argument that it’s not possible to build a maintenance barn doesn’t make sense when paired with support for a 1st Ave alignment. The 1st Ave route would require a new maintenance facility as well, plus all of the things I just listed. If the City wants to make Seattle a Streetcar City, why don’t we start by using the streetcar we’ve already got?

      13. I really do feel we were lied to about the streetcar.

        Incidentally, http://streetcar.slumberland.org/ is a “Save the Waterfront Streetcar” blog that some folks here might be interested in. I offered to host it, though I am not the blogger who writes for it, because I am so damned frustrated with the current state of things.

        “Ben, so far the official word is the Waterfront Streetcar will be part of the new Alaska way. ”

        The last I heard was the STB post that said that the mayor said it’s never coming back. I sincerely hope that what you said is true. But it’s still a long wait, and there was really no reason the barn couldn’t have been incorporated into the sculpture garden somehow.

      14. I REALLY don’t like seeing the First Ave and Waterfront Streetcars being pitted against each other in some sort of zero-sum either/or competition.

        What possible reason is there not to restore the Waterfront Streetcar other than some politically powerful property owner along the line being opposed to it or just a bizarre sense of “not invented here”?

        The point is we have the W4 cars, the waterfront line was very popular and well patronized and the First Avenue line doesn’t serve the same corridor, furthermore putting tracks in can’t be that expensive when the entire street is going to be ripped up and re-done anyway.

        In any case I haven’t seen anything fully official other than statements that the service suspension is temporary and the inclusion of a waterfront line in the renderings of a re-done Alaskan way.

        I mean if the powers that be were wanting to be rid of the pesky Waterfront Streetcar why don’t they sell the W4 cars, pull down the overhead, rip up the rails, and tear down the stations? As long as the cars are still in the area and at least some of the infrastructure still exists people are going to keep pushing for a restoration of the line.

      15. Some more thoughts on the Waterfront Streetcar:
        1. It is election season, we should be asking every candidate for Seattle City Council, Seattle Mayor, King County Council, King County Executive, and Port Commission if they support and will work for bringing back the Waterfront Streetcar. We have until November to keep asking this over and over.
        A. If yes, where would they get funding and when would the line re-open.
        B. If no, why and do they support a First Avenue Streetcar?
        2. Write letters to the editor of our remaining dead-tree publications asking that the streetcar be brought back: Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, Stranger, neighborhood papers. Similarly comment on local blogs/internet sites like Seattle PI, Seattle Post Globe, Crosscut, Publicola, Horsesass, etc.
        3. Perhaps it is time for a citizens initiative? Make it the LAW that the city and county must restore the streetcar along the waterfront once the viaduct is removed or rebuilt. It is too late for this year but perhaps in 2010 or 2011?
        4. Build a coalition. Talk to the cruise lines, Amgen, various tourist dependent businesses along the line, community leaders like Cary Moon, former City Council member Peter Steinbruck etc.

      16. “I mean if the powers that be were wanting to be rid of the pesky Waterfront Streetcar why don’t they sell the W4 cars, pull down the overhead, rip up the rails, and tear down the stations? As long as the cars are still in the area and at least some of the infrastructure still exists people are going to keep pushing for a restoration of the line.”

        Don’t give them any ideas!

      17. Did anyone ever think that the streetcar could be a valuable tool in helping keep people moving on the waterfront? Sure the tracks would have to be moved, but setting up shooflys for railroads is easy. If they could do it in 1900 when they built the NY subway UNDER the streetcar lines, theres no reason why it cant be done today….

  1. All I have to say is THANK YOU, Greg Nickels. Thanks for your persistence, patience, and all-around enthusiasm about light rail. See you on tomorrow, and you definitely have my vote in August/November.

  2. As a 30-year Rainier Valley resident, I’d be interested in what “new and exciting” educational and job opportunities the Mayor is referring to as now being “just a short train ride away.”

    This post feels like he is trying to claim credit for something that still has an unproven benefit, and furthermore is a product of an effort much larger than Nickels’ or The City of Seattle for that matter.

    After the mayor is defeated (he is losing in head-to-head polls vs all major candidates) for the next term it will be interesting to see what his legacy becomes. I can see that he would like it to be the light rail or possibly some “green city” thing, but I suspect it will be more along the lines of poor snow-storm management and giving reach-arounds to Paul Allen and his developer ilk. I wonder if Nickelsville will change its name?

    1. So, centralizing thousands of jobs and delivering transportation upgrades and place identification is a reach-around? Light Rail has unproven benefits? 8 days of several years is a condemnation?

      Narrow-minded, much?

      I do hope you know that Nickels has been working on this for quite some time. You’d only been in Rainier Valley for less than a decade when Nickels started working on this.

      Actually, hope is a little shallow in this case. “Wish” is a lot closer to reality.

    2. Wait, your name is Graham St. – implying you wanted a station there and are bitter about losing it.

      And then you go on about light rail’s ‘unproven benefit’?

      Hypocrisy much? You aren’t going to find any friends here.

    3. Evil, evil Paul Allen! Why do so many people in Seattle have such a thing against developers? Who the eff else is going to build the places where we live, work and shop? The building gnomes? The Rainier Valley was nothing more than a clear-cut forest one hundred years ago. All the historic areas of the RV that people hold so dear are nothing more than developments built by the timber barons.

      1. Zed, your grasp of history is tenuous at best. Columbia City was a place in the 1890s. Regardless, you are getting a little off-topic by referring to anti-developers.

        My point was not that developers are bad, rather that Nickels has a legacy of making major concessions/contributions to certain large-scale developers that have not borne out any measurable benefit to citizen taxpayers. Talking about things like the S.L.U.T.

        Paul Allen is probably not evil, he is doing his thing. But local government isn’t under any obligation to cow-tow because he is rich (and not a Seattle resident BTW). When it comes projects with such a large impact on the city, its citizens, and our money, developers should pay to play.

      2. So, centralizing businesses into South Lake Union and adding transportation elements has no measurable benefit? You say citizen taxpayers foot the bill, but really? Have you seen the Amazon campus on Beacon Hill? Do you know how many people will be working in one place while connected to multiple forms of transit and transportation?

        And Allen has paid to play. Quite a bit, in fact.

      3. seriously..getting the Amazon campus smack dab in the middle of an up-can-coming district of the city is HUGE

      4. You guys keep putting the cart before the horse. Big new buildings do not automatically generate a vibrant and successful business community. Ask Detroit.

        Amazon has about 4,000 employees in the Seattle area, which is not really “HUGE” by big-company standards. Boeing has 75K employees in Washington, Microsoft has 30,000+ in Redmond.

        Amazon also has a hands-off history when it comes to civic and non-profit endeavors, which means impact of their presence will likely be limited to a proliferation of lunch restaurants.

        I’d love to hear what you see as their major economic impact on North Beacon Hill or at Union Station. I’d argue it is minimal. Besides, Amazon consolidating there isn’t really creating new jobs, just moving them from out-of-the-way places to one location in the middle of Seattle’s worst surface-street traffic problem (Mercer ST).

      5. I meant “huge” in the sense that it is a big deal for the neighborhood, not necessarily that the employment base is “huge” by large company standards. I should have clarified.

      6. From wikipedia

        “The area was once dense conifer forest, inhabited by the local Salish peoples, until the arrival of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway from Downtown in 1891”

        So I was off by twenty years, my point is still the same. Cities grow and change, the Rainier Valley will be unrecognizable in another 30 years, and a lot of that will be due to the light rail corridor. I hope the mayor is remembered for that because he has done a lot more for the city than most of his predecessors.

        “Regardless, you are getting a little off-topic by referring to anti-developers.”

        And making a sexual slur towards the mayor was on-topic?

      7. I’m not generally a big fan of some of the large developments that have been built in the city over the past 8 years, but I don’t have a problem with most of what has gone up in SLU, it is a huge improvement over what was there and the design is generally of fairly high quality.

        Those new developments have increased the tax base of the city. The SLUT is actually useful transportation for the SLU area and has generated support for a widely expanded streetcar/tram system. Think the First Hill Streetcar would be happening if the SLUT hadn’t been built.

    4. will people EVER get over the snow-storm response? what was that, 1 to 2 weeks out of your entire lifetime? c’mon people, there are plenty of folk in the US who deal with terrible snow and terrible driving conditions for MONTHS every year. Get over it and stop trying to find things to place blame on others.

      1. Kevin, legacy is about what people remember. I for one didn’t find the snowstorm thing to be a huge deal, but trust it will come up a lot in this campaign and he will be remembered for it.

      2. If it’s not a huge deal then why do folks waste time discussing it? People in this city seem to have priorities completely backwards sometimes. I do understand your point about what people remember, and thank you for clarifying.

      3. While I do not know where you live, Kevin B, I can tell you that for many thousands of daily transit commuters who live east of Broadway and south of the Montlake Cut, 1-2 weeks without ANY public transit was more than just a minor nuisance. I lived “Back East” for 9 years and never saw the kind of inept response exhibited here. Yes, 2 weeks out of 60 or 80 or 90 years isn’t much, but gross ineptitude on the part of well paid elected or appointed city officials in certainly unnecessary and more than a little inconvenient.

      4. I live at the bottom of QA hill, so I will concede that I probably had an easier time than others. However, we live in a city that sees this kind of thing what, once a DECADE? Do you think taxpayers would like to foot the bill for maintaining a huge fleet of plow trucks, large quantities of road salt, extra employees needed in such a response, etc for an event that happens once every 10 years? I certainly hope we could spend money more wisely. Nickels should have never given the city a “B+” or whatever it was for the response, but that’s sort of beside the point.

        I lived in the Midwest for 11 years, and of course their response was much better during storms. However, that does not mean the driving conditions at various times during the winter aren’t absolutely treacherous.

      5. O dear god I wish someone would just do an initiative asking voters if they want to create a snow fund of two or three hundred million to keep hundreds of vehicles parked for years or decades, only moving when they go for annual maintenance to keep them from rusting into solid immoveable hunks of metal. Or, and here’s an idea, the people who are ready to spend the money for the big snow storm could keep 4WD vehicles chained up and ready to go.

        Or, if we had that much money, why not just pay people who miss work for a few days. That might even be easier and cheaper than doing what it takes to satisfy every last person when it snows.

      6. Exactly! Anyone smart would agree that is a waste of money and resources. People seem to have a hard time seeing the big picture.

      7. Being lucky and able to telecommute, and having food in the larder, I thought the lack of plowing was great. I got to sled more than I have since I was living back in the snow belt.

        Plus it was a chance to interact with my neighbors. We were all out there on the hill monitoring the kids, taking turns, drinking hot chocolate.

        As long as the power stays on, they can skip buying plows.

  3. Ben, I live on Graham ST, hence the moniker.

    Sure, I would prefer to have a station back here and find the whole take-a-bus-to-get-to-the-train-to-get-to-where-you-would-have-gotten-in-one-bus-ride-previously thing a little ridiculous, but to be honest, the one-legged train doesn’t go anywhere I need to go very often, so I wouldn’t be a frequent rider anyhow.

    ‘Unproven Benefit’ refers to the fact that it may be a little early to start crowing about the Link. The measure of success for this project will come from ridership numbers and improved quality of life for area citizens, not from getting it built.

    1. So you’re basically saying “it doesn’t help me, personally, so I doubt it will help anyone else”?

      Gosh, you must be pretty popular at neighborhood meetings.

      1. Flame much? I didn’t say I doubted it, I said it is unproven. You might consider reading before piping-up.

    2. No, really, it’s just fear, uncertainty and doubt about rail. We already know about what ridership will be. This “I don’t see it so I don’t believe it” stuff is typical anti-science bunk.

      1. We’ll see I guess. Doubting Sound Transit’s predictions of future ridership is hardly “anti-science”. In fact, it would be anti-science to trust them. Studies on other light-rail ridership predictions (like St. Louis’) have been shown to be off by up to 66%.

        The first test of ST’s ability to forecast accurately will be to see if their predicted 100,000 riders show up this weekend. If that happens, I’ll put a little more salt in their other predictions.

      2. They’re not just Sound Transit’s predictions – they’re federally backed, very conservative predictions.

        The Hiawatha line in Minneapolis is getting much more ridership than projected.

      3. Meeting or exceeding predictions is a possibility, though it would be more likely to come from Metro service cuts than from anything else. An express #7 ride is much faster from my RV location than a local to the train would ever be. If they stop the #7, maybe the ride on the train would make more sense.

        My point is that predictions, whoever makes them, are not fact. They may be predicated on good method but in the end, and this is particularly true when it comes to transit ridership, they are often wrong.

        Your example would be another case of where the predictions were significantly wrong. How is pointing that out “typical anti-science bunk”?

      4. Your point is “I hope it fails”, really.

        Ridership is low because it can only be estimated on known factors like current corridor service. They create a baseline, but then can’t extend it further to accomodate rider bias or future growth.

  4. “In my first month as Seattle Mayor I gathered all the City staff working on the project and let them know our job was to team with Sound Transit to make sure the system got built — as promised to the voters.”

    Too bad he didn’t have the same commitment to the monorail project. Then we would have had an additional line to Ballard and West Seattle and even higher ridership on LINK… Even if he had redirected the funds to not build a monorail but instead elevated light rail. (and yes it would have taken a vote, and it could have been done.)

    1. It wasn’t his project, it was a project by a group of citizens who demanded the city butt out and then cried for city help when they failed miserably.

      1. Wrong. He had people on the monorail board. He knew about the funding gap and the voter support in enough time to do something positive about it. And instead he gave them a short moratorium that he knew would fail.

        It’s about vision. And lack there-of.

      2. Him. By himself. And not the supposed thousands of supporters throughout the city.

        If you fail to sell a technology, it won’t be bought. The monorail wasn’t sold very well and fell to a lot of its own problems.

        If you want a monorail so badly, work on getting one. If you aren’t willing to do the work and would rather wax poetic and say “it’s already been defeated, no use in trying again” then it’s obvious that it didn’t really mean much to you outside of sentimental reasons. And if people are trying to get it back, then I’ve certainly not heard anything– and my ear is pretty close to the rail on this sort of thing.

      3. What is this, the “LINK Fan club blog?” or the “Seattle Transit Blog?”

        I’m just saying that from the text above, the mayor instructed his staff to fully support LINK and he did not do the same for an equal length, voter supported, in city transit system. And that it’s too bad he didn’t.

        I don’t care if you don’t like the technology. I don’t like it all that much either, those rubber tires on the Alweg designs spit latex dust everywhere. The center cat walk for the fire code makes it uglier than it otherwise would be. etc etc.

        But had it been built, instead of a mere 14 miles of fixed line rapid transit, we’d have 28, which would service an area that isn’t likely to see an extension of LINK for another 15 years. And the increased ridership on both lines because of the existence of each would have improved the livability of the city immensely.

        And I did work hard for it to be built. And there will be a next time, but now is not it.

      4. Gosh, anyone who disagrees with an approach is instantly a Link fanboy/girl. The reality of the matter is this: you clearly do not appreciate any transit investment that is not the Monorail. I’m figuring, just guessing, that you weren’t really a big fan of the Waterfront Streetcar in a practical sense, but it became a good truncheon for you.

        If it isn’t a Monorail, it’s not for you.

        I see this in a lot of mode supremacists: any excitement for a mode that isn’t your preferred is fanaticism. Any mode is inferior unless your mode is built as well. Any failure on your part is a failure on the part of others.

      5. You miss my fan club of the waterfront street car. I wrote letters to the editor that got published to please please extend it to Ballard. And up King street through the ID. I used to time my rides at lunch just for the heck of it, catch the one going North from Pioneer Sq, and switch half way and catch the return in one trip… I brought the kids downtown just to ride it…I took out of town guests on it. I think I rode that thing 3 or 4 times a week just for the fun of it.

        The First Hill street car will totally go where I would have run that trolley.

        Why do I like this street car? First it had both a conductor and a driver, so for tourists we had instant ambassadors, crime watchers and tourist guides. Plus the track while in the street was not an impediment to bicycling mostly because there are alternative routes. And it ran in the middle of the street for parts and not along the curb lane. Unlike Westlake which regularly injures cyclists.

    2. Here we go again. It’s funny how you always conveniently forget about what really happened to the monorail.

    3. Gary, you know there wasn’t enough money, and there was nothing anyone could have done about that. Please drop it.

      1. Why am I still correcting monorail nonsense after months and months and months?!?

        1) The error in tax funding was actually Sound Transit’s error. Silly us for using the models from Sound Transit, instead of spending taxpayer money to make up our own.

        2) The only reason the $11 billion plan existed was because it was a worst-case scenario plan put together because the City (the Mayor?) required us to prove it could be built if all of our assumptions turned out wrong. We didn’t actually propose to spend $11 billion on a monorail.

        3) The only reason we had a single bidder on the project was because the City (Conlin might be to blame on this one) required that bidders put up a $200 million bond (I may be wrong on that number) as part of their contract proposal so that track and columns could be removed if we ran out of money during the project.

        Bottom line, many things and many people contributed to the epic collapse; and many elected leaders refused to seize the opportunity to save a great project.

        Also, rather than ridiculing it when it comes up. Readers of this blog should particularly try to learn lessons from this case of established business and political leaders killing a project that was inspired by committed transit advocates and supported by a majority of Seattle citizens.

      2. 1) Nope, in fact, Sound Transit warned you. Notice they weren’t hit with the same issue in MVET revenue?

        2) Sound Transit costs out a worst case as well. Just the same.

        3) That’s because you were so high risk.

        Please cut it out.

      3. 1) AFTER the plan was approved, Ben…

        2) Yes, but no one reports that as the cost for Link Light Rail. And remember when opponents tried to cost ST2 out in YOE dollars? Different reaction, eh?

        3) There was NOTHING high risk about the Project. We had a fixed-price contract on the table, land already purchased for station locations, and folks ready to build it. The only problem was the lower tax revenues. We were less risky than the current plans for ST2 or for the Waterfront Tunnel.

      4. In fact one of the major tragedies of the Green line disaster is that the land was sold back to the public. Sound Transit is going to have to buy back that land in the future and the price is likely to much higher.

        I do understand that those who were forced to sell regretted the whole experience, but the transit usage studies showed that there would be the necessary ridership in those two corridors for elevated transit.

      5. *SHRUG* I didn’t screw the thing up. If they’d listened to me on a few issues, we’d have 28 miles of rail opening up this year, as Gary said.

      6. *SHRUG* too. I went to the board meetings. I tried to talk sense into Joel Horn. But that guy is a true snake oil salesman. First the Commons disaster and then the Monorail.

      7. Just like there wasn’t enough money to build the original 21 miles of LINK, and yet something got built because the political leaders really wanted it. Mr. Nickels & Mr. Sims at the center of it.

        Ben, I know you are a fan of LINK and Light rail Technology. I’m a fan of Rapid Transit, and Light Rail can be that. I was also a supporter of the Green line Monorail because at the time it looked like another Rapid Transit project that would benefit the city.

        Forgetting history just because you don’t like it is not all that smart. We all want a livable city. This particular post is by a mayor who didn’t support fairly all of the projects that would benefit transit in the region. And I’m just pointing out the duplicity of his statements and actions.

      8. The monorail had to go back to voters after their cut because they put the specifics of the line in their law. Sound Transit knew better. The voters said no because the monorail didn’t plan well enough not to have to go back.

        It’s that simple. Sorry.

      9. Now wait a second. I’m thrilled for what Joni Earl and Greg Nickels accomplished in turning around ST and getting us to tomorrow’s opening…

        But you’re basically singing the praises of a government agency lying to voters and levying a never-ending tax.

        That is most certainly NOT what voters approved; although that’s what the agency went to court to get a decision on.

        That’s not something to be proud of, even when done with the best of intentions.

        I don’t understand why you guys are so one-sided on this blog some times. It really destroys your credibility.

      10. Oh give me a break, the voters approved a light rail plan that allowed flexibility in technology, alignment, costs, and opening dates. The fact that the monorail plan had little flexibility led to its downfall more than any other factor.

        The most shameful thing of the Sound Move plan is the frustrating schedule slip, but much of the alignment was relatively similar. Mandating a strict alignment and schedule, for example, would have been a poor choice.

      11. From the courts findings:

        “The explanation for local elections officials not publishing Resolution No. 75 in the local voters’ pamphlet is not before the Court. It is not a dispositive issue. What is clear, however, is that Sound Transit was not involved in or responsible for the resolution not being published. ”

        Because of this lawsuit and the overall anger about being misled, kept the Monorail team from inserting a similar clause. Without this resolution there is a good chance that there would be zero miles of fixed rail in this city.

  5. in my citizen comments re ST2, I suggested infill stations to the phase one line at South Graham Street and South 133rd Street. There seems too little access.

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