Yesterday, we covered a letter that the Seattle City Council sent to the state on SR 520 that included some reasonable recommendations, and echoed some of the arguments we’ve made recently. It points out that pontoons for light rail could be added later and aren’t an immediate concern, as I argued last week. It says that bus service is probably a more “flexible and effective form” of transit than light rail for this corridor, as Ben made the case. And the letter softly supported the concerns of McGinn’s report regarding a gap in the eastbound and westbound spans through the arboretum, which might be necessary to build light rail in the future; Martin would support that if the cost were right.
But the letter is clearly a rebuke of the Mayor’s light rail report and McGinn’s lobbying to delay construction of the bridge until a transit plan, including rail, is fully complete. McGinn hasn’t just failed to get his city’s council on board, though, he has also failed to convince many strong transit advocates of his case. Case in point: not a single blogger from this site is in agreement with the mayor, even though the phrase “seattle transit” is literally our name.
One can’t help but wonder what this use of political capital is getting McGinn (besides possibly a gap in the Foster bridge). Just as Mayor Nickels developed a reputation of not being able to work with the state and present a unified Seattle coalition, McGinn is falling into the same trap. On the other hand, McGinn has made the council’s position seem moderate and the state may be willing to cut them a better deal. And McGinn’s incredible and authentic zeal for transit is exactly what we need next year, when he plans present a ballot measure expanding rail in the city.
A word of caution for the town’s mayor, though: when you’re coming late to a battle, like the deep-bore tunnel and the 520 project, we can’t totally blame you for lacking a built-in constituency and nibbling at the edges of a project to destruct it. But for a rail plan that will be your own doing, it’d be smart to put the lie to the perception of “six-shooter McGinn” and get something solid in front of people, long before election day.