Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

The Seattle City Council Transportation Committee is considering a bill today from Councilmember Rassmussen that would cut off funding for updating the city’s Transit Master Plan without further council approval.

The bill says that while the Mayor already has the authority to coordinate with the City “Council and Council Central Staff to frame for Council review and approval the vision, goals, schedule, and scope of work to update the,” the bill would disallow the executive from actually working to “implement the update” to the Master Plan “until authorized by future ordinance.”

Rasmussen has recently come under fire from some greenies for being skeptical of the Nickerson Street “road diet.” He told PubliCola that he didn’t see the Council taking action to stop that project.

Updating the Transit Master Plan is one of the planks of the “Walk. Bike. Ride.” initiative that Seattle Mayor McGinn announced last month, and McGinn has said the update will include a study for light rail expansion to Ballard and West Seattle.

Rasmussen may be trying to separate the Mayor’s light rail election promise from an update of the Transit Master Plan, which would otherwise focus on how to align bus service in the coming years. Another motive could be a turf war: in effect, letting the Mayor know that the council should have a big say in the parameters guiding the Transit Master Plan update. Note the “Council review and approval” in the bill language.

Update: PubliCola has Rasmussen on the record for why he’s proposed the bill.  Speaking of the record, the fizz got the story up before us so make sure to give their post a read.

9 Replies to “Rasmussen Bill Halts City’s Transit Plan Update”

  1. This is weird… The Transit Master Plan is very important for figuring out how our transit system will advance. Will it just include bus recommendations, or will it serve to update the Streetcar Network Plan and look into possible future light rail routes as well?

    1. I think the forth paragraph of the post above at least answers part of your question.

  2. Let’s find a candidate to replace Rasmussen now. Lets organize and kick him out come next election.

  3. This doesn’t give me too much heartburn. The Mayor hasn’t proven to be too effectual in getting much of anything done so having the City Council take a more active role in the Transit Master Plan is probably ultimately good for transit.

    Additionally, it’s highly likely that the Mayor is planning on using the Master Plan as part of his battle against the Deep Bore Tunnel. As such, putting some “controls” on what he can do with it is probably a good thing. In particular, removing Light Rail from the plan and handling it separately would help prevent LR from becoming collateral damage in the fight over the tunnel.

    LR is simply too important to be used as a pawn by McGinn in a battle he appears likely to lose.

  4. If all these schemes and dreams are so much in the public interest, why are politicos always doing the bum’s rush without proper review (or popular approval)?

  5. Regarding his skepticism to the Nickerson road diet, I got the sense from watching this morning’s transportation committee meeting that he is actually is on board with the idea but that he had to demonstrate to his numerous constituents who are opposed to the project that he was being diligent in his review of SDOT’s plan. He basically said at the end of SDOT’s presentation that he is confident that SDOT has done it’s due diligence in addressing the concerns of the project’s opponents, which would fit with his comment to Publicola.

  6. The 36th District legislators (there at the behest of the 36th District Democrats) all called for more comprehensive planning on how to move traffic, rather than a piecemeal approach. (How implementing bicycle and pedestrian plans is a piecemeal approach, I’m not sure, but whatever.) Having the city council make each neighborhood grovel to the council to first get their projects into a master plan, and then grovel again to get funding released, sounds like the Seattle Process on steroids. And even then, the mayor (not necessarily this mayor but a generic future mayor) might impound the funds and not do the project.

    One thing we don’t have, and that would help cement the alliance we’re trying to build, is a Freight Mobility Master Plan. If I trust anyone to design this plan to be anything other than a Trojan Horse for SOV traffic, I trust our current mayor to do it right. Something tells me Chairman Rasmussen would go along with it, as long as it works on paper.

    I am grateful to Chairman Rasmussen for having the hearing on the Nickerson Street safety project, as it allowed a lot of vexing issues to be aired, and for people on all sides to get together and talk with each other.

    Speaking of piecemeal, I’m wondering what sort of systemic thinking led to the legislators drawing up this tunnel to Aurora with minimal public process, and no plan for how to get freight over to the tunnel across five neighborhood arterial streets. Wouldn’t a tunnel to Interbay have made more sense, especially if freight mobility were the primary justification for the project?

    Is there interest in the freight hauling community to try to fix the tunnel? One lane each way for licensed commercial freight haulers, only, and the other layer for West Link or high-speed rail (which would include high-speed commercial freight rail)?

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