This afternoon gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee,  King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Bellevue City Council member Claudia Balducci held a press conference to respond to WA Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s comments reiterating his opposition to both the East Link project and to the existence of Sound Transit.

Inslee’s remarks are embedded above.  Balducci’s introductory remarks are here, and Constantine’s remarks are here.

33 Replies to “Inslee’s Statement on McKenna’s East Link Opposition”

  1. That’s encouraging. He needs to keep it up. Maybe there will be a fighting chance of a forward thinking government.

  2. I’m glad he made his stance clear. I hadn’t made a decision on whom to vote for, but McKenna’s comments made me pretty uneasy about him, and it makes me wonder just how far he intends to go to prevent light rail development in the area.

    Regardless, I consider putting light rail up to a vote again, as McKenna implied he would, to be pretty unacceptable. We already voted on it in 2008, and it passed by a clear majority. Why vote again?

  3. Heck you could make the case we voted on eastside rail again last year. And pro rail won again. More I see of McKenna, the more I think we are looking of the franchising of WI Gov. Walker. A seeming moderate with a hard right agenda

  4. The thing is floating bridges were a great idea back in the 1940s…they were based on World War II pontoon bridges used in Germany.

    But in 2012, we now have the technology to build very long and very large and very safe suspension bridges. Before everyone rushes off to the cheap solution that might end up a disaster, consider a Transit Only Suspension Bridge, dedicated to rail.

    It would be much easier to dedicate funds and taxes to this bridge rather than doing any of the crazy transfer schemes. Plus you could build extra tracks for future expansion…and it could be built with rail loads specifically in mind.

    1. Yeah, John, and I am SO confident that you and your Kent pals will help pay for a transit suspension bridge over Lake Washington. I can just hear your progressive neighbor, Pam Poach, chomping at her bit to get started on this, ASAP. LOL

      Sometimes, no make that, at all times, I wonder why you enjoy “playing doctor” with the pro-transit crowd.

      Oh, never mind. I would rather not hear your answer….

      1. John, that is a very offensive, and volatile comment to make and you should be ashamed that you made it. I respectfully request that the moderators delete it.

    2. Freeway bridges being large infrastructure projects, it’s beneficial to piggyback as many other crossings on them as you can, if you’re building it anyway. And this one (I-90) was being built anyway, so it was built with the ability to do this project.

      Also, my understanding is that the length of the crossing, coupled with the depth of the support pilings required, still keeps a suspension bridge from being the cheapest option for getting across lake Washington. However, things may have changed by the time East Link hits capacity on this crossing, and we could revisit it when we build the next crossing. I don’t expect that to happen for a very long time, though, because hitting capacity on the bridge would first require either an expansion of the DSTT or a Rainier/Mount Baker connector line.

      The engineering problem of rail crossing the expansion joints, which I assume you were referring to as possibly ending in disaster, is not a difficult one. Just an uncommon one. You can quickly pencil out a dozen different bulletproof designs for such a rail, but it will take time to find firms to fabricate them, and get bids.

      Finally, one agency buying ROW from another doesn’t really seem like that crazy of a transfer scheme to me. At all.

      1. When it comes to a real safe and long term solution, the differential cost shouldn’t be the issue. And I would be looking at Asian engineering firms that have done these types of projects with ease.

      2. [Lack] has it. It’s not like suspension bridges are cutting edge technology. We’ve been building them since at least 1433, with one “recent” example being the Golden Gate Bridge. They’re not small and not cheap. We use floating bridges for the reasons [Lack] listed, and because we can – this is a lake, not an ocean, and we don’t have to deal with tides and large waves.

      3. And this one (I-90) was being built anyway, so it was built with the ability to do this project.

        In 2008 the engineering experts told the transpo. leadership that all the engineering hurdles could be overcome. NOTHING has changed since that time. The center lanes were designed for light rail, per the 1976 agreement that dedicated them to transit (they used the term “fixed guideway”). Contrary to what the perma-critics say, the engineers are carefully proceeding now and all signs are “go” for east link. The construction still is slated to begin in 2015, and we’ll be operational in 2023. Oh, and before anyone starts saying “over-budget”, bear in mind the agency has been getting GREAT bids from contractors recently!

    3. A suspension bridge would ruin the aesthetic of Lake Washington. I think THAT is mostly why we stick to floating bridges, they have almost no impact on views/the appearance of the lake, where a suspension bridge would shatter lake-long mountain views, among other things, and generally disrupt the visual environment of the lake FAR more than a floating bridge.

      1. floating bridges, they have almost no impact on views/the appearance of the lake,

        That’s certainly not true from a boat, especially a sail boat which has to navigate under the highrise at either end. As for aesthetics, I’ve seen the Golden Gate on a lot more postcards than any sinking bridge.

      2. The floating bridges are because the lake is so deep; it goes almost straight down at the coastline. I think it’s 200′ deep?

      3. One thing a sturdy suspension bridge would do is give us the ability to have an alternative freight rail corridor.

        So when the mudslides close off the bluffs, you could send traffic to the Eastside and have it continue up their back to the mainline.

        So this suspension bridge would carry LINK, Sounder, and BNSF cargo trains.

      4. The golden gate over the SF bay vs golden gate next to some of the most spectatular scenary in the US? I’ve seen a hefty number of Mt Ranier post cards minus any suspension bridges.

      5. I posted this previously in the McKenna article. Sorry for the cross post but it’s relevant to this discussion.

        Well, railroads have been using floating bridges since the middle of the 19th Century. Here’s a picture of a floating rail pontoon bridge on the Milwaukee Road line crossing the Mississippi at Marquette Iowa.

        http://goo.gl/xbO7p

    4. I was concerned about the expansion joints too. But a change in the water depth would also affect the roadway. When I took a tour of the Ballard Locks, the engineer said that a major reason they keep the lake depth stable is the floating bridges. I don’t know if the highway could gracefully handle the lake being lowered: if the bridge would just pop out of place or if it would rupture. But the point is, by the time we have to worry about trains not being able to run, cars won’t have a smooth roadway either.

    5. The transition of the light rail tracks from the fixed portion of the Homer Hadley bridge to the floating portion in four places is arguably the biggest remaining engineering challenge to government intent to convert I-90 lanes to light rail.

      Until Sound Transit demonstrates that this can be done with a working prototype, light rail on I-90 will not be approved by U.S. DOT, according to the environmental record summarized in the Record of Decision issued by he Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Sound Transit is of course expressing great confidence that this challenge will be met, but reports to the Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel indicate that a first pass at “track bridge” design was set aside for cause, and a second pass at design has been initiated that is not scheduled for testing until 2013.

      I trust that Seattle Transit Blog will try to smoke out what is going on in meeting the challenge and report! I’m contributing to the reporting effort by currently requesting status from FHWA and will share.

      Public Interest Transportation Forum has provided some documents bearing on the engineering challenge of transitioning light rail tracks on and off the I-90 floating bridge at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/I90plan.htm .

      1. Stay on it John :-). This could literally stop light rail into the eastside!

      2. I think “challenge” is a bit strong of a word to describe the problem. Building a multi-axis rail joint isn’t exactly like building a quantum computer or nuclear fusion reactor. One senior engineer and a zealous intern should be enough to figure it out.

    6. Great comment.

      There is a bridge across the Fraser in BC that is Skytrain light rail only.

      1. That Skytrain suspension bridge in Canada was held up by Sound Transit and its consultants for years as an illustration of rail on a moving bridge that is something like the I-90 floating bridge. Federal Highways disagreed and said Sound Transit should get going on the design of what was needed for I-90. Turns out that suspension bridges don’t move and twist as much as a bridge floating on water.

  5. How long is the I-90 bridge expected to last? According to Wikipedia, it was built in 1989, which puts it 23 years old today, or 33 years old by the time East Link opens for service. If the lifetime of a typical bridge is 50 years, does this mean that the train tracks will have to be ripped out and replaced after just 17 years of service? I hope not.

    1. AS one who worked on both, the quality differences between the old and new pontoons are huge, starting with epoxy coated rebar and lots more concrete at higher standards. These pontoons will be here at least another 50 years starting from now.

    2. It will likely last more that 17 years. But 10 years after it opens the discussion will be about how to fund the replacement bridge. The design of the expansion joints on I-90 was a failure. Everything on a ferocement vessel, which is what the pontoons are, starts to go after 50 years.

    3. One consequence of light rail on the I-90 bridge would be that Sound Transit would share financial responsibility with WSDOT for bridge refurbishment and replacement when the time comes. If operating trains across the bridge causes additional wear and tear, that time may come sooner rather than later.

      For a better grasp of this bridge check out the photos of the pontoon interiors posted at ftp://ftp.wsdot.wa.gov/public/I-90HMH/DeliverablesByEastLinkTeam/Photos/

      1. Are you sure about that? I thought ST was only responsible for the lease payment and maintenance related to its uses. Replacement is a whole other issue. But we’re talking 50 or so years down the line.

  6. If McKenna loses because of his (prominent) opposition to mass transit, I hope that will send a clear message to future Republican contenders for the Governor’s mansion: don’t mess with Sound Transit.

    1. Yes, but this is too much to hope for. Most voters care only marginally about transit; they’re not going to choose a governor based mainly on that. Seattle just barely got a pro-transit mayor, and the Bellevue City Council is flipping back and forth. These are the easy races where the electorate is more pro-transit than the state average.

      1. I’ve noticed that Mike.

        Getting good transit up in Skagit County is going to be an acutely uphill challenge.

        Furthermore, if I recall correctly, I think voters in King County were ready to veto the CRC because they misunderestimated the importance of transit.

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