This morning, we posted on a Seattle PI report that had city experts hinting that an expensive light rail expansion couldn’t be funded with city sources alone. Mayor McGinn responded today at a press brown bag event, saying that he plans to build an affordable line.
“We are going to try to minimize the amount of expensive infrastructure” associated with rail construction, McGinn said, mostly by building rail on the surface on existing city streets. That, obviously, would mean taking out lanes of traffic—a move that caused major political problems for the now-defunct monorail, whose concrete pylons would have taken out traffic lanes in West Seattle, Ballard, and downtown.
McGinn said he isn’t worried about the political implications of removing traffic lanes. And he declined to commit to a specific light-rail route, saying, “We’re not starting with lines on a map.” He noted, however, that 15th Avenue NW—where the monorail was supposed to run—would be “an obvious corridor” to get to Ballard.
No follow-up today on the comments from McGinn spokesman Mark Matassa, who told the PI that the mayor “hasn’t gotten to the point of studying how [light rail] might happen, and whether it would go to a vote, or what the funding source would be.” It seems to us on the outside that the city should begin studying possible routes now if a vote is on the table for next year, as McGinn promised during his campaign. We’ve sent a message to mayor’s office to clarify.