This morning we’re at city hall, testifying to the city council to retain money proposed in the Mayor’s budget to advance the Seattle Transit Master Plan. We’re here because in addition to fast, high capacity rail, we need more local rail to connect our core neighborhoods.
The few million in this proposed budget seems like so little compared to the huge Sound Transit projects many of us are used to – but in this case, at this time, it goes a long way.
In the next couple of years, Sound Transit is likely going to put together their ST3 package; sources in Sound Transit say it’s looking more likely that we could see a regional vote in 2016. The primary goals for the next package are to connect Everett, Tacoma and Redmond (and maybe Issaquah) with extensions of Link. This means there will be money in Seattle for projects too, but it might not be exactly the right amount for the big projects we need in the city – it could be too much for one surface or elevated rail line, or too little for underground rail. We don’t know.
The projects on the table right now – major improvements to the streetcar line on Westlake (likely making it more like Link than streetcar), connecting it through downtown to the First Hill line, to Ballard via Fremont, and to the U-district via Eastlake, building real BRT on Madison, and extending the First Hill streetcar to Aloha – are all projects that might fill in those gaps.
Giving Sound Transit more planned and ready projects to choose from means they get more choices to build the most successful possible regional package. And in the event that Sound Transit doesn’t go to ballot in 2016, it gives Seattle more chances to connect neighborhoods too. In both cases, the planning in this year’s budget gives us opportunities for federal funds. We can’t let Portland get all the money!
So this morning we’re taking action – the most powerful thing we can do as individuals, really, bringing our neighbors and friends to let our elected officials know that this is what we want. To those transit supporters who are coming this morning – thank you. And to those who can’t, you’re missed, and we hope you can make it next time!