Sound Transit
Sound Transit

In Saturday night’s debate, County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison had this to say (at the :52 minute mark) about Kemper Freeman and friends’ lawsuit to stop light rail across I-90:

The lawsuit about light rail going across I-90 is not against light rail. It is against using roads money to build light rail. In fact, it is a violation of the 18th amendment which says roads money can’t be used for any other purpose.

As Ben has pointed out before, the legal argument is not as open-and-shut as Hutchison suggests.  I asked Hutchison to clarify her position on how (or if) the state should be compensated for crossing I-90.  She emphasized that she voted for and supports light rail, but there was also this nugget:

We should build light rail on the new 520 with a designated lane.  We should not take lanes away from I-90 for light rail.

It’s not generally understood, except by professionals and longtime readers of this blog, that for technical reasons it would be extremely difficult to send Link over SR520 without a new downtown tunnel.  And of course, the I-90 alignment has been approved by voters and is in the advanced planning stages.

Full text of Hutchison’s response after the jump.

Throughout this campaign I have said repeatedly:

  • I love light rail and have used it throughout the country and the world.  I grew up in DC and light rail construction began when I was heading off to college. The Metro subway and surface system has totally transformed that city and suburbs and I use it every time I visit the nation’s capitol.
  • We should have moved on building light rail 20 years earlier.
  • We made a promise to the voters in 1996 that in 10 years we would have light rail running from the airport to UW.  It arrived 3 years later, over a billion dollars over budget, and is not expected to extend to the UW until 2016 (10 years longer than promised).
  • All money invested in transportation projects should be tied to results:  alleviating congestion, economic development and  enhancing safety.
  • Our light rail system should have focused on  the east-west corridor to provide for commuters  to and from Seattle and the Eastside.  Instead stations were built in low density areas of Seattle such as Mt. Baker and Park and Rides and bus connections were not even provided.
  • My opponent has sat on the Sound Transit board for years and bears responsibility for these decisions
  • We should build light rail on the new 520 with a designated lane.  We should not take lanes away from I-90 for light rail.
  • The first appointment I will make to the Sound Transit board will be a Bellevue representative.
  • I voted for light rail.

Martin, I frankly don’t understand what my opponent is talking about [Ed. note– this refers to a Constantine press release about the debate quote].   It is another desperate attempt  to distract from the real problems our county is facing because of my opponent’s mismanagement and reckless spending .

Susan Hutchison

94 Replies to “Hutchison: Light Rail on 520, not I-90”

  1. This is the sort of stuff the leader of the region’s biggest county can’t get wrong.

  2. I fear that Susan makes Sarah Palin look coherent on too many issues to risk handing her the reins of the County to. I picked up that comment of hers from Saturday’s debate. Being telegenic and exuding sparkle doesn’t outweigh her lack of experience both politically and administratively. King County is too important and big to entrust to candidates who have not had elected office before. Dow Constantine by contrast is cool, Obama-like and clearly up on the issues facing us. He is smart and sophisticated and knows County government well.

    I believe if voters look beyond the short haul to the long haul that they will see that Dow is the best candidate to represent those long haul values. By contrast, if Susan gets in, what will happen once she has fired a few people and shored up the Green River dam with the military? Then she will be let loose on other issues facing the county and will move us away from sensible choices.

    I have thought a lot about this issue and have come to the conclusion that it makes little sense to stream King County government down to match the diminished revenues coming into the county. Why waste all the administrative talent and face going to the expense of rehiring them all once revenues improve. We need folks to be in place to get their diminished programs running again once the revenue comes back in. You cannot run government as a private business – historically, this has not and should be the soul of local, state or national government. It exists for the weak in our society and under-cared for and it also exists for the big projects that private business alone lack the funds to take on. Sorry, Seattle Times, but the era of big government and big projects is far from over – the 520 replacement, the viaduct replacement and bringing light rail over to the Eastside are big projects and onces that local government will need to be thinking about over the next few years.

    1. … shored up the Green River dam with the military?

      Well I’m not certain she’ll handle that situation well either, I’d really rather have Dow in charge if there is any flooding.

    2. Dow is equally ignorant but it is easy for a supporter of Dow to create a lens that only makes Dow look good.

      Much like you can gloss over all of Obama’s failures since he took office. This is just as bad as the Sarah Palin reference which makes no sense.

      1. Dow has illustrated no ignorance on transit and transportation. He has a masters degree in urban planning. On the issues important to transit supporters, he is a clear winner.

        There are candidates I support who I wouldn’t speak as favorably of (say, Bagshaw) and those who I oppose who I wouldn’t call ignorant about transit (say, Ginsburg or Mallahan). But Hutchison is beyond just disagreeing with me — she is uninformed about the real role of transit and buys into ridiculous things like changing the light rail alignment decades after the Federal government stipulated that rail would go on I-90’s center lanes, and nearly a year after voters approved the alignment.

      2. “Dow is equally ignorant” – care to back that up with what you think he’s ignorant about?

      3. Dow isn’t perfect. We know this. Hardly too many of us agreed with the RTID he helped chair when it welded in the huge roads package. But he has been in on the action as Link has been conceived. He knows how important rail is too many people. Susan can say all these nice things, but when you consider that she compared light rail with a cab, how ingenuous is she really about transit?

  3. Hutchinson shows herself to be ignorant — and almost certain to engage in mismanagement. In a private business, spouting off for months about the merits of a plan when you have the facts all wrong would get you sacked, and if you were running the business, would be a recipe for bankruptcy.

    Absolutely terrible. I generally have nothing against “fresh” candidates with “outside” ideas, but that’s if they’re *thinking* and *researching*. She seems to be full of knee-jerk, just-plain-wrong ideas.

  4. She voted for ST2 but now says Link crossing I-90 is unconstitutional (despite it being very clear in Prop. 1)? What is she trying to imply? That she’ll back Clibborn and the ETA? Thank goodness the law’s on our side.

    1. Probably that she is either confused or just pandering to Light Rail enthusiasts who haven’t picked up on her I-90 remarks. This is a strange political year at local level. I am even thinking that what will help Dow get elected, would be if Congress passes health care reform before November 3rd. At this is unlikely, at the moment, Susan is riding a wave of disenchanted voters fed up with the political establishment not doing anything. However, I would urge these voters to reconsider based on what is likely to happen once the wave of angst finally rolls exhausted to the shore and we are left with Republican-style values for King County? I wonder who Susan voted for for President in 2008. I wish Dow would get her to answer this one and this would speak much to her philosophy overall in running the County.

    2. I wouldn’t overestimate Rep. Clibborn’s opposition to Light Rail across the bridge. I believe she has backed down from her previous doubts and is now in favor of ST taking over the lanes. We discussed this a lot back when Olympia was in session in January through April.

      1. I believe that your are correct about Clibborn’s position. In May she responded to an email I had sent during the last session about the ST and the 1-90 bridge. She indicated that she anticipated ST taking over the lanes once a value for the center lanes could be ascertained mentioning a “study.” As for the value of the lanes, she said she believed it to be on the low side of range of values that folks had been throwing around [0, 2.8 billion].

        Nevertheless, I’m quite nervous about the possibility of both the Mayor and the King County Executive pushing regressive policies in regards to transit. I believe that the region has begun to turn the corner to substantially improve mobility, but I fear the election of Hutchinson and Mallahan could prove to be disastrous for ST2 and other future projects (Street car system, etc…).

  5. I expect her to have to make appointments to the Sound Transit Board from Bellevue if she gets elected, but aren’t they divided by subarea, of which King County has three of the 5, so with the County Executive that leaves 9, almost evenly divided among the three, in theory. I don’t think it can be stacked by region, as Seattle automatically gets on King County seat, being the largest city in the county.

    1. She’ll have to appoint people from Seattle, but she can appoint anti-light rail people.

      I have no doubt that her election would derail much of Sound Transit 2.

      1. That is the problem, she does not seem to care about the voters, except that they do one thing, elect her. The decisions they made last year, so 2008. Sure the construction workers will just build roads if that is all King County is willing to pay for, but the problem is, ST2 is not a road building plan, it is a Transit building plan, mostly Light Rail, and in my opinion, it won’t work without an Eastside LIne, and the voters approved one already. Ironically, the same voters she is probably counting on to win, Eastside voters.

      2. Dow only cares about himself and getting elected too. I’m not sure why you would think otherwise.

  6. I find this amusing that everyone believes it “takes capacity away” from I-90.

    How does adding HOV lanes along the entire length of the bridge and making the lanes available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, taking capacity away? We would be adding capacity to the bridge by not only adding high capacity transit to the bridge but providing 2-way HOV lanes from Downtown Seattle to Issaquah.

    Please, someone explain it how this is taking capacity away besides from those who live on Mercer Island having their precious dedicated rush-hour freeway away. Heaven forbid something happens to that roadway…

    1. The ST/WSDOT I-90 Two-way Transit and HOV Project is adding those new HOV lanes in the outer roadway, not East Link. As originally proposed, the project did not assume that conversion of the center roadway to high capacity transit would begin as soon as the new lanes were opened. The project would have effectively made I-90 a 10-lane highway, with the reversible center roadway operating as it does today.

      Here is a cross section diagram that shows the 10 lanes:

      Now along comes East Link with funding for construction. It looks like work on East Link will begin on I-90 as soon as the new HOV lanes are done. So yeah, for those who define capacity in terms of moving vehicles, East Link ‘takes capacity away’ from what would otherwise be there. If you’re actually concerned about the capacity for moving people around the region, you see it a little differently.

  7. I was going to add this but Ben already said it perfectly over at Publicola.

    “Please take note – the idea that we can build light rail on 520 would likely derail East Link entirely. It’s a far, far more expensive proposition, and we probably don’t have the money to do it at all. Her stance would likely effectively kill rail to Bellevue entirely.”

  8. WOW. That is a big fat pile of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).

    Almost every single one of her bullet points is designed to undermine Sound Transit and attack its credibility, alongside that of the light rail project.

    We’re seeing a lot of this here in California with high speed rail – people claim to support it, then list a set of criteria designed to undermine the project by setting out standards the project either cannot meet, or criteria designed to ensure the project isn’t ever built.

    This is what Susan Hutchinson, who has revealed herself to be Kemper Freeman’s candidate, is saying. She thinks light rail should go nowhere near downtown Bellevue, and should be subject to cost/benefit analyses that likely resemble Ed Glaeser’s widely discredited attack on HSR in the NYT a few months back.

    A true light rail supporter would not condition her support for light rail like this.

    1. The comments that get deleted but have the editor’s note always make me curious. There should be some sort of ad hominem attack archive for those of us with such untoward fascinations.

      1. I’d recommend you subscribe to our comments RSS. That’s usually how we catch the stuff to be deleted.

  9. So she is totally writing off both Mercer Island and the Factoria/New Castle/Newport Hills area? How do you think they’ll take that? Those i-90 buses are packed everyday with commuters from that area.

    1. And the 550 is the highest ridership ST bus route, I believe, and 520 light rail would take significantly longer to get from Downtown Seattle to Downtown Bellevue than along the I-90.

      1. Why? It’s only 8 miles, two stops (Overlake Hospital & Kirkland P&R) and would be completely grade separated to UW Husky Station. From there it’s a 9 min ride plus transfer time to take the Central Line to Downtown. East Link trains could interline to Northgate rather than put additional strain on the DSTT. If they build the 520 HOV connection right (which I sure hope they do since the Montlake Flyer Stop is being eliminated) it may end up being faster to take a bus to UW and tranfer than riding Link along the south Bellevue scenic loop. It sure will be for the years between U-Link and the bridge opening and East Link coming on line.

      2. “transfer time”

        Why should we remove stations from Bellevue? And how do we get to Microsoft if we’re taking the route down to Bellevue?

        Is it really worth the breath? There’s almost no way this will happen. The state and Sound Transit are going to have an agreement during the next session. The lawsuit will certainly fail because ST is buying the ROW from the state — gas taxes are not being used for transit.

      3. Transfer time would be however long it took to switch from a northbound East Link train to one headed downtown via Capital Hill.

        There’s a very compelling reason to remove the East Main Station from Bellevue, it’s not needed.

        No it’s probably not worth the breath because rail will never cross on the 520 bridge. The designs already been skinned down so much that there would be no room without removing the HOV lanes or a GP lane; neither of which would ever happen.

        Connections to Microsoft and Redmond would have been way better if the 520 corridor had been chosen. It wasn’t and that’s pretty much that. As it stands buses across 520 with a transfer at UW will end up being on line years sooner than East Link and likely be a faster connection to downtown.

      4. I don’t see how you can have good connections to Microsoft and Redmond as well as Bellevue, across 520. Unless you’re talking a bunch of spurs, which I think would be less than ideal.

      5. Overlake -> Bel-Red -> Hospital Station -> Bellevue Downtown.

        That’s the same route as currently proposed. Then instead of turning south you go north, probably via 112th to pick up Kirkland P&R and then back to 520 or Northup (is it still Northup through Kirkland) to the 520 crossing. I’m sure it would be possible to come up with half a dozen alternatives.

      6. I’m afraid I don’t understand. Earlier, you proposed: Husky Stadium -> Kirkland P&R -> Hospital Station -> Downtown Bellevue

        I think you’ve changed the theoretical map on me. I don’t see how you can get to both Bellevue and Overlake without doubling back or a spur.

      7. I was originally taking the worst case scenario since the claim was 520 to downtown would take longer than going down to I-90. No way that’s true. There are lots of ways to connect the dots but the point is I-90 wasn’t chosen over 520 because of any technical or geographic rational. The last presentation from ST to the Bellevue City Council was an eye opener with respect to how the routes “studied” in the Draft EIS were chosen. So many of the decisions were based on assumptions that didn’t materialize or land use patterns that didn’t materialize it’s amazing there wasn’t a “reset”.

      8. I think we have to assume that alexjon wasn’t giving up Overlake and Redmond. I can’t think of a route that hits Downtown Bellevue and Redmond, crosses 520, requires a transfer, and is faster than I-90 routing when going from Downtown Bellevue and Downtown Redmond (like the 550).

        Maybe it’s interesting to ask “Why I-90?” It’s also worth asking “Why SR-520?” You make the case that if what’s served is dramatically different and we forced transfers at Husky stadium that it’d be possible to route rail across SR-520. But why would we do that? The service would be slower and not as convenient, we’d have either a circuitous route or two short spurs, and things would cost more.

        So, why? Hutchison argues that we should route the line differently to preserve two center HOV lanes always earmarked for rail. Since we’re installing HOV lanes in each direction to replace those lanes, we’re actually gaining capacity on I-90.

      9. Not at all. A 520 route doesn’t give up Overlake or Redmond; it serves them better unless you’re totally wedded to the one seat ride even if it takes longer idea.

        No spurs required and building rather than retrofitting is always less costly.

        So why not 520? Probably because when east Link planing was done there wasn’t the realization that 520 was going to have to be replaced before east Link was built. Which also raises the ugly reality that I-90 is going to be in the same dire straights as 520 a decade after it’s put into service.

        No shortage of poor short sighted design on either the roads or transit side here.

      10. Bernie,

        Even if you stop the trains at UW you have capacity issues. During rushhour those trains are coming down from Northgate full. You’re dumping a crush-loaded train’s worth of people onto a crush-loaded train.

      11. That’s too bad. I’d been hoping for good bus connections but since the trains are already at crush capacity I guess we might as well skip that expensive part of the 520 project.

      12. If you have a large part of the Eastside to Seattle traffic being siphoned off onto an I-90 alignment, the numbers would presumably look a little better.

      13. “A 520 route doesn’t give up Overlake or Redmond; it serves them better unless you’re totally wedded to the one seat ride even if it takes longer idea.”

        Then you give up Bellevue.

        “No spurs required”

        I’m sorry, Bernie. You need to map out your route. You are either missing Bellevue, you are missing Overlake, or you’re creating a spur. Unless you’re doubling back.

        “building rather than retrofitting is always less costly.”

        It’d make the new 520 at least $400 million more expensive according to the state. That doesn’t include the cost of a new Downtown tunnel.

        “Which also raises the ugly reality that I-90 is going to be in the same dire straights as 520 a decade after it’s put into service.”

        The 520 bridge was having problems in the 80’s. Homer Hadley is no where near that state.

      14. The argument that 520 buses will create crush loads at Husky Stadium is bunk. Many 520 buses will go straight downtown, whereas a 520 train would require a transfer or an expensive tunnel to reach downtown. In fact, that is the entire problem.

      15. After going Thru Bel-Red the line would turn south to pick up Overlake Med on the east side of 405. Then cross 405 to a downtown station. Then it would have to go north again, perhaps on a 112th alignment to pick up Kirkland P&R before turning back west. So if you want to call dipping south from a Bel-Red alignment on NE15/16 to a 405 crossing around NE 6th doubling back that’s fair but it’s serving two high demand stations on opposite sides of 405.

        I’m pretty sure that “retrofitting” would be way more than $400M to put rail on 520. The only way it could realistically be accomplished would be to build a new bridge along the current alignment (the new 520 will be north of the existing ROW). No connections have been thought out with U-Link, even for buses, which would further add huge costs to any retrofit idea. I don’t know where WSDOT came up with the $400M in savings figure (maybe that was for a wider deck?) but it never did make sense to promise compatibility with rail on a six lane bridge. To bring rail across the 520 corridor right would have required a real bridge with an upper and lower deck. WSDOT wrote off any suggestion of doing anything other than rafting pontoons together decades ago.

        Homer’s not in the same sorry state as 520 because it’s 26 years newer. Half that time span (or more) will pass before East Link gets to Redmond. Serious work planning the 520 replacement started back in 1999 so yes, within a decade of East Link being finished the region is going to come to the realization that it’s time again to start the replacement process for the oldest ship in the fleet. Of course we’ll be good at it by then because the half of the Hood Canal bridge that wasn’t replaced this year will be up before I-90.

      16. The Homer Hadley bridge is expected to have a much longer lifespan than the 520 bridge. When it was built we’d learned our lessons from some of the mistakes that were made when the Hood Canal and 520 bridges were built. I believe the current estimate is the Homer Hadley should last at least 70 years. We can probably get even more life out of it as long as it is well maintained.

      17. Is this the route you’re suggesting Bernie?

        I really don’t see how this serves Redmond better. You have to transfer. You have to go through Downtown Bellevue, to Overlake Hospital, to Bel-Red. I cannot think of a single benefit to doing this routing — besides avoiding stops in South Bellevue and on Mercer Island, thus providing service to less people. The time-savings benefit you’d get with that routing would likely be eaten by the forced transfer and the crush loads at Husky stadium.

      18. Reorder the stops; South Kirkland P&R, Bellevue TC, Overlake Hospital, 124th stop, 130th stop, Overlake TC, DT Redmond.

        That should get it pretty close.

      19. I’m not at all understanding why that route is better. It’s close to the same number of miles between Downtown Seattle and eastside locations as I-90 routing (although I-90 is a little bit less) and yet it forces a transfer. Therefore, it will take a lot longer than the East Link routing.
        You have not once here said why a 520 route would be better, just tried to explain how it could be done. Please explain why it is better.

      20. I come up with 13 miles for East Link from Bellevue Transit Center to where it interlines with Central Link. From Bellevue Transit Center via 520 it would only be 8 miles to where it meets up with U-Link. It’s a push who gets the space in the bus tunnel if both routes exist. The extra 5 miles for East Link is a slog through south Bellevue so it probably adds 5-10 minutes. Right now the 545 gets you from Overlake TC to Downtown in 34 minutes. When the center HOV lanes are complete it will be faster (and a lot more reliable than today). Once East Link is built it will take that long or more, depending on how much is grade separated to ride the train from Overlake TC to Downtown. Sort of like the airport to downtown; it’s slow but it’s reliably slow.

        I was saying go north and transfer to avoid the arguement the DSTT is at capcity. The idea of extending the route west to Ballard also makes sense but would of course entail the expense of a new line.

        Of course it depends on where you’re going but I think there’s more commute traffic that would do Capital Hill to Downtown Bellevue or Microsoft than there are trying to get to Mercer Island or South Bellevue. Likewise there’s more Bellevue and Redmond residents trying to commute to UW and Downtown than wanting to loop down to I-90 unless they’re head to a sports event at the stadiums. Even then I don’t think you’d save much if any time with the East Link route.

        But this is all just fun and games because rail will never go across 520. Even if it could it wouldn’t make sense once the current East Link line is built.

      21. Yes, there is less of a distance between Downtown Bellevue and Downtown Seattle than there is between Downtown Bellevue and UW. However, far more people are going to Downtown Seattle than are going to UW, so it makes a lot more sense to have the line go directly there. It will fit into the tunnel because half of the trips will be Central Link and half East Link, with both continuing up from the DSTT to UW and Northgate.
        And we will have light rail on 520 in the future. But East Link is the priority. The 520 line would be to serve the U District.

      22. Neither I-90 or SR-520 connect the eastside to downtown. East Link interlines with Central Link and then wanders over and through SODO on the surface before going downtown (it does provide an excellent connection to the Seattle Goodwill!). A 520 alignment would have connected via a tunnel and included two underground stations; one the major jobs center outside of the CBD and the other the densest residential area on the system.

        We may well have rail on the 520 corridor in the future but not in the next 50 years. It will be the next bridge rebuild cycle before that’s an option. It would be silly to put money toward that alignment once the current East Link route is built.

      23. “East Link interlines with Central Link and then wanders over and through SODO on the surface before going downtown”

        No it doesn’t.

      24. Right now the 545 gets you from Overlake TC to Downtown in 34 minutes.

        But you’re not making the route match the 545. Your routing is through UW, Downtown Bellevue, and Bel-Red. This route will not have comparable times to the 545.

        I come up with 13 miles for East Link from Bellevue Transit Center to where it interlines with Central Link.

        I don’t think you can interline, but have to force a transfer — at least according to the Sound Transit document I’m sourcing.

        I was saying go north and transfer to avoid the arguement the DSTT is at capcity.

        The people are the capacity issue, not the trains.

        East Link interlines with Central Link and then wanders over and through SODO on the surface before going downtown

        East Link follows the I-90 bus tunnel off-ramp and goes directly to the International District after a Rainer freeway stop. It does not go through SODO.

      25. The comparison with the 545 is to East Link, not the dream route over 520. The train won’t be any faster for people trying to get from Overlake TC to downtown than today’s bus connection because it turns a 10 mile trip into an 18 mile jaunt. By cutting 5 miles off that total it would certainly be faster for everyone in Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland if 520 had been chosen.

        I also don’t see how the East Link route will ever effectively serve the population east of the 405/I-5 interchange other than taking up stalls at south Bellevue P&R and Mercer Island. A 520 line serving the north end and an I-90 route dedicated to Mercer Island, South Bellevue, Factoria, East Gate and Issaquah would have been nicer (but way over the budget for ST2). I don’t know that there would ever be the money but planning for rail on both bridges would have been ideal. What we’ve ended up with makes a 520 line redundant since it would just duplicate East Link’s primary purpose which is to connect Redmond/Microsoft, Bellevue and downtown Seattle and Redmond is the obvious point from which to extend north.

        I will say this; I-90 does make the most sense for covering as much as is practical of the eastside with a single line.

        I was under the impression East Link trains were going to use the DSTT. I think that means they will have to go at least as far as UW to be reversed unless they plan on keeping a crossover operational at the north end of the tunnel. It seems there would be the same capacity through the tunnel under Capital Hill as there is in the DSTT.

      26. East Link trains go up to Northgate, so they carry Northgate traffic one day, Eastside traffic the other.

    2. But some poverty rock residents really like their private express lanes on I-90, I’m guessing those are the people who’s vote she’s trying to get.

  10. So first she gripes about Sound Transit being behind schedule, but then suggests delaying East Link by ten to twenty years while a new 520 bridge is built. It’s precisely because of people like her that Sound Transit it always behind schedule. What a hypocrite.

  11. The best argument in favor of Link on I-90 is that it helps handle the traffic/travel load when SR-520 bridge is under reconstruction. Oh, snap.

    1. That’s really your best argument? The 520 bridge is scheduled to open in 2016 and East Link isn’t scheduled to open to Bellevue until 2020.

      1. The new bridge won’t open in 2016 if we decide that it’d be better to build the new SR-520 on I-90 instead. :)

      2. Yeah, I would delay U-Link tunnel and build the I-90 Link first. But of course, some people get served first while others wait, depending upon political clout. In my book, U-Link has less potential than Link I-90 and extension south to Federal Way. You wouldn’t understand.

      3. Delaying U-Link would have no effect on accelerating the building of East Link. The 2020 time frame is an optimistic projection of how soon it can possibly be built. U-Links also the highest ridership portion of the entire system… You’re right, I wouldn’t understand.

      4. It may be your opinion, but it is quite wrong. U-Link is getting a ton of money from the Federal Government precisely because it has more potential than just about any other project in the nation, let alone our system.

      5. Isn’t it a little late for that idea? I think there’s some University Link tunnel-related work going on near the Convention Center downtown…

      6. Yes they have had the I-5 exits there closed for the last few months and they will continue to be closed until next Spring or Summer for prep work for boring a tunnel underneath I-5.

      7. Well, I guess none of us would understand. No, I take it back.

        U-Link serves Seattle city residents that have to deal with buses that are locked in intracity congestion every day. Commuters on the Eastside can wait. Why? Because it’s fantastically easy to commute from the Eastside to Seattle.

      8. Well, I guess none of us would understand. No, I take it back.

        Would one of the regulars whom I read this blog for good information please clarify. I know you think I’m totally lost most (all) of the time but in this thread I would have to agree with you. I guess I’m missing several of the sarcasm tags.

      9. Link extensions south and east generate the most ‘new’ transit users. These extensions also generate the most (re)development to increase future ridership and decrease traffic congestion. UW is already well served with transit and U-Link only converts a portion of existing bus riders to Link riders. Sure, those buses are slow, but the overall traffic situation is best resolved with suburban Link extensions. That’s the argument I presented to Sound Transit board members in 2000 and 2001 when Phase I tunnel to UW bust its budget. I figure they agreed with it grudgingly and were especially disgruntled about the importance of including Southcenter along the route. It’s a “Regionalism” principle that I thought sure PSRC would appreciate. Yeah right.

      10. Taking a 25 minute bus ride to a six minute train ride is a massive improvement in service. That ease of connection will drive more economic development than you seem to think. U Link will have the highest ridership of any light rail corridor under construction today, I believe.

        Decreasing traffic congestion is a poor metric of the value of a transit line. Any congestion benefits you see from transit will be eaten up by new drivers. Empty roadway at peak times induces demand, it doesn’t just serve it. It may be true that future congestion can be avoided with transit alternatives, but it’s hard to say (because you can’t just assume if someone is on a train, they’d otherwise by driving to the same location).

        Considering the most congestion corridor along all of the Link alignments is I-5, providing an alternative to driving along the most congested part of that congested corridor seems to fit your goals of what transit should do.

        Other factors play a part. It would have been stupid to ignore the route approved by voters and instead routed the line to less dense parts of the region. Would ridership from Bellevue and South King be the same without connections to the densest neighborhood in the region (Capitol Hill) or to the neighborhood second most jobs (University District)? Probably not.

  12. I like how she says it should have been built to the Eastside first, instead of low-density areas of Seattle. The Rainier Valley is probably way denser than anywhere on the Eastside except Downtown Bellevue.

    1. I’m pretty sure downtown Redmond would have it beat and possibly Kirkland along the water but I’d bet that there is no contiguous area the size of the RV on the eastside that can match it for density. More importantly, RV has a far higher number of people that actually use transit.

  13. Why do they show a convoy of buses in this rendering? Wouldn’t it make more sense to terminate the routes with a transfer on Mercer Island or South Bellevue P&R?

    1. All the ST renderings are populated with an inordinate number of ST vehicles. The pre-Central Link renderings of the bus tunnel showed all Link trains and 550s – no Metro buses.

  14. It’s really hard to imagine that King County of all places would elect Susan Hutchinson. We elected Ron Sims three times! The conservative forces have done a good job trying to pull the wool over the voters’ eyes, starting with the getting the non-partisan offices proposition passed last year. Hopefully we will come to our senses.

    If Hutchinson gets elected, I’m going to join the Republican Party and advocate for her to run for higher office, where she can do less harm, as soon as possible.

    1. Like all of the democrats who are migrating from here to DC to do less harm in the Obama administration?

      If you think it is hard to imagine a Republican getting elected in this area you have your head in the clouds.

  15. We (heart) the PDC!


    And look who has been giving Parka Girl her money and where they live. I notice that the most recent report includes one of Kemper’s employees (and his wife-gotta get those max donations in!)

    Also, does anyone know what relationship companies names Pegasus and the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue have? They are located at the same address in Bellevue, and I was curious how so many people including a presumably-unpaid-intern at Pro Sports Club could afford to donate $800 each to Ms. Hutchinson’s campaign.

    1. The intern gave more money ($800) to her campaign than the owner of Dick’s Drive-In ($400)?


  16. Maybe we should just quit electing a County Executive. Instead, let the County Council hire are real executive (like Kurt Triplett) and save the sallary and election expense. If it was felt that there was a need for public accountability then put them on the ballot every two years unopposed with the option of voting yes (keep up the good work) or no (no confidence). If a person gets less than 50% yes votes then the Council is directed to replace them. I’d do the same for Sheriff.

    1. I think we should do that for things like Sheriff and Elections Director, and especially Port of Seattle, but Executive is a position that really involves a lot of policy that closely effects everyone in the county, and therefore should be directly elected.

      1. You’re right the current system give the County Exec the unilateral decision to make a lot of policy decision. I just don’t think the County Exec should be doing this but rather should be implementing the will of the Council much as a professional city manager would do.

        I’m with you on Elections Director. I’d forgotten about that one and it’s probably the most ridiculous office to elect.

        Port Commissioners effect (and affect) decisions as great as those now made by County Exec so I’m not so sure on that one. The big problem I see with electing commissioners is that very few people, including those elected, can really understand the workings of the Port. Perhaps an appointed Port executive with an oversight board akin to ST?

  17. Hey Susan Hutchinson, thanks for proposing that Metro buses be outfitted with GPS. That’s something no one has ever thought about and that’s certainly not something Metro is already planning on completing by end of 2010. Love your fresh ideas!

    1. And when the 15% who are not in cars then get in their cars, it makes life very interesting.

      I advocate an annual “Drive SOV’s to work” day, a.k.a. “Use transit, bikes or walking as little as possible” day. It would be VEERRRYY interesting!

  18. Welcome to seattle. All talk, no action! Well, about the only action is watching our politicans run amok delaying much needed infrastructure projects, to try and make sure every last man is happy to ensure their re-election. Not to mention the severe case of amnesia they all seem to get in regards to anything that happend prior to their election (read ST D-M street; WSDOT Pt Defiance by-pass). Projects going on for much of this decade, yet only now as they come close to construction does anyone start to realise there may be problems. Mrs. Hutchinson & Co. complain about waste of taxpayer dollars (saw this on one of her ad’s), yet it seems most of the waste come from her ilk that constently delay these projects on various frivilous grounds! Anyways enough of the ranting, Prehaps the SAO should take a look at the cost of political delay on ST projects and make report of that, and of where the delays origonated….

  19. Alright, I just have to get this out. Suzan is showing quite a bit of misunderstanding when she says lanes on I-90 will be taken away. They won’t be. WSDOT is adding HOV lanes on the outer roadway. You have 8 lanes today, and in 2010 you’ll still have 8 lanes.

  20. Hutchison is simply saying she wants to frustrate the delivery of light rail, drive up costs, and delay the day that 520 gets fixed. For the eastside it is a lose-lose: delay will simply mean that light rail will wind up on the surface in Bellevue and screw up traffic there rather than improve it. Why? Because dithering means driving up costs.

    Nothing Hutchison is saying on this topic is any different from what the people suing to keep light rail off I-90 are saying. We know who they are: the same people writing big checks to elect Hutchison. The last thing needed on 520 is another monkey wrench.

    An interesting question might be: when would it be practical to expect that light rail would actually be delivered on 520, under the very best scenario? Answer that question and you’ll find out why Hutchison is advocating it: it would take decades.

  21. It’s really hard to read this blog with safari on an iPhone for some reason. Anybody know why the text is so wide?

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