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Old June 29th, 2008, 06:05 AM   #1881
UrbanBen
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I was visiting a friend who lives in Rainier Vista today, and a light rail vehicle was being pushed along the trackway. It looked like they were adjusting the overhead wires, perhaps for tension.
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Old June 29th, 2008, 01:02 PM   #1882
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I also found some vids on youtube of the light rail. One is a tour of the cars being used and another is a tour of the Tukwila station.

Light Rail Train Tour

Tukwila Light Rail Station
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 05:08 AM   #1883
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I went past by the light rail line on MLK way from near Boeing Field to the intersection of Rainier Ave. The overhead power line looks like they are energized, but the power line hasn't been put up near Mt. Baker station on way to Beacon hill tunnel, I think that's the only section that hasn't complete. They are still doing a bit of work around the stations in Rainier Valley. They also have those people driving the trucks on the tracks with special wheels to keep them on the tracks, probably doing some inspection on the tracks, I guess.

I don't know why they have cement filled all over the tracks almost all of the corridor in Rainier valley. Many cities in the US have bare tracks even at the median of the streets, wouldn't that cost a lot of money? It looks sort of an eyesore with all that cement.
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 09:35 AM   #1884
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoias View Post
I went past by the light rail line on MLK way from near Boeing Field to the intersection of Rainier Ave. The overhead power line looks like they are energized, but the power line hasn't been put up near Mt. Baker station on way to Beacon hill tunnel, I think that's the only section that hasn't complete. They are still doing a bit of work around the stations in Rainier Valley. They also have those people driving the trucks on the tracks with special wheels to keep them on the tracks, probably doing some inspection on the tracks, I guess.

I don't know why they have cement filled all over the tracks almost all of the corridor in Rainier valley. Many cities in the US have bare tracks even at the median of the streets, wouldn't that cost a lot of money? It looks sort of an eyesore with all that cement.
I wish Seattle would do something like this:

image hosted on flickr
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:24 AM   #1885
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^ Yeah, I guess ST loves concrete more than grass. Or maybe they did think of it, but justified against it by thinking "kids will think of it as a park and play on the grassy tracks".
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Old July 7th, 2008, 05:59 AM   #1886
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lawns are a real waste and now said to be bad enviornmentally because of the amount of water they use up and chemicals and such used to make them weed free and the maintenance and upkeep...

it looks nice though
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Old July 7th, 2008, 09:05 AM   #1887
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kub86 View Post
^ Yeah, I guess ST loves concrete more than grass. Or maybe they did think of it, but justified against it by thinking "kids will think of it as a park and play on the grassy tracks".
Why not just bare tracks instead of concentre, that's less of an eyesore.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 05:56 AM   #1888
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoias View Post
Why not just bare tracks instead of concentre, that's less of an eyesore.
yeah either the grass or the bare tracks. Concrete gets dirty and cracks after a while.
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Old July 9th, 2008, 05:23 AM   #1889
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HAWC1506 View Post
yeah either the grass or the bare tracks. Concrete gets dirty and cracks after a while.
Yeah, it'll be horrible looking after a decade or two of usage for sure.
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Old July 11th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #1890
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New 15-year mass transit expansion package offers further rail extensions and faster completion dates

July 10, 2008

The Sound Transit Board today discussed a new 15-year option for expanding mass transit. The new option heeds the call for further light rail extensions while delivering a series of significant Sounder commuter rail and ST Express regional bus service expansions between 2009 and 2023.

“This package would achieve a 53-mile regional light rail system by 2023 while focusing on moving quickly to launch major commuter rail and regional express bus expansions,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “It responds to the loud and clear call we’ve heard for major mass transit expansions, while maintaining faster completion dates and a lower price tag than last year’s package.”

The 15-year plan represents a new alternative for a mass transit ballot measure, alongside 12- and 20-year options identified in April. The new plan responds to public input received in May and June that included strong desire to see light rail extended further north and south than was proposed in the 12-year options. Details include:

* Northward expansion of light rail from the University of Washington to Northgate by 2020, with a further extension to Lynnwood by 2023, five years earlier than last year’s Proposition 1 measure.
* Eastward expansion of light rail to Bellevue and onward to Overlake Transit Center in Redmond by 2021, seven years earlier than Proposition 1.
* Southward expansion of light rail to Highline Community College by 2020 and Federal Way’s South 272nd Street area by 2023, five years earlier than Proposition 1.
* Major ST Express bus service improvements, including a first phase delivered prior to completion of a new maintenance base and a second phase afterward. The plan provides service increases of 10 to 20 percent in key corridors and bus rapid transit service on State Route 520.
* Sounder Commuter Rail service expansions remain unchanged from the 12-year options, including longer trains and more trips on the line between Lakewood and Seattle.
* Improved station access: Funding to increase access to transit facilities in Auburn, Edmonds, Everett, Kent, Lakewood, Mukilteo, Puyallup, South Tacoma, Sumner, Tacoma and Tukwila. Projects will be tailored to the needs of each location and may include expanded parking; pedestrian improvements at or near stations; additional bus/transfer facilities for improved feeder service to stations; bicycle access and storage; and new and expanded drop-off areas to encourage ride-sharing.
* Partnerships for expanded transit: Partnership funding for Eastside passenger rail on existing freight tracks; as well as for potential extensions of Tacoma Link light rail and projects in Bothell and Burien.

The 15-year transit-only package would carry capital costs that are 50 percent lower than last year’s Proposition 1 package that included both roads and transit projects. Those costs are 22 percent lower than the 20-year transit package that was part of Proposition 1. Funding would come from a 0.5 percent increase of the local sales tax, or 5 cents on a $10 purchase. The approximately $69 annual cost of the increase for each adult is around the cost of a single tank of gas. More information on the 15-year and other options is available at www.future.soundtransit.org.

The Sound Transit Board will decide later this month whether to proceed with a ballot measure in 2008 or wait until 2010.

In May and June the Sound Transit Board received an outpouring of public comment reflecting a strong sense of urgency for expanding regional transit service, including 6,077 responses to a Website and telephone questionnaire and 4,015 written responses. Among citizens who took the non-scientific questionnaire:

*
91 percent say it’s extremely or somewhat urgent to expand mass transit
*
81 percent say it's extremely or somewhat urgent to add more light rail
*
81 percent say it's extremely or somewhat urgent to add more commuter rail
*
81 percent say it's extremely or somewhat urgent to add more express bus

The highest level of support among people who took the non-scientific questionnaire was for the largest transit package option: a 20-year plan funded by a sales tax increase of 0.5 percent, or about $69 per year per adult. The 20-year option was favored by 43 percent of respondents, while 31 percent favored a 12-year plan, and 14 percent did not support either. Respondents also expressed urgency around when to move forward with a new transit ballot measure: 76 percent favor a 2008 vote, 10 percent favor a 2010 vote, 3 percent favor voting after 2010 and 5 percent said never.

Sound Transit’s system of regional express buses, commuter rail and light rail currently carries about 55,000 riders each day, a number that will more than double following the 2009 opening of light rail service between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International Airport. Construction of that light rail line is moving forward on schedule and is more than 90 percent complete.

Expansion of Link light rail between downtown and the University of Washington is slated to begin this year and be completed in 2016. University Link is projected to increase the regional light rail system’s ridership to more than 114,000 a day by 2030.
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Old July 11th, 2008, 09:06 PM   #1891
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Beautiful no?
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Old July 14th, 2008, 05:32 AM   #1892
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yes it is beautiful and well wow thats awesome Seattle is going mass Transit which is good yes.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 08:25 AM   #1893
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^ some of those dates look depressing tho - 2023? thats kinda far off

a good beginning
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Old July 14th, 2008, 09:30 AM   #1894
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!!! This is EXACTLY (or close enough) what I was hoping for. The last package took waaay too long for full build out. Thank God Sound Transit finally listened to the people and will offer a quicker package!! Though I still think 2020 is still too long of a wait (2 yrs planning + 5 yrs construction = 2016) - especially if there's very little tunnels to bore out.
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Old July 21st, 2008, 05:11 AM   #1895
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Seattle Times Editorial

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...0_taxed20.html

Sunday, July 20, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

Editorial

Light rail can wait

Sound Transit's board is on the verge of putting a measure on the November ballot to increase the general sales tax by half a point, to 9.5 percent, and at restaurants to 10 percent.

Sound Transit's board is on the verge of putting a measure on the November ballot to increase the general sales tax by half a point, to 9.5 percent, and at restaurants to 10 percent. Such a big increase in this already-high tax is not advisable now.

The economy is faltering. State government faces a budget deficit. King County faces a budget deficit. The region has big transportation projects on the table, starting with replacing the Highway 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Voters already spoke about a big tax package. Last fall, they turned down a measure to sharply raise taxes for light rail and roads. Sound Transit's directors are apparently under the delusion that with $4 gas, if they take the roads out, voters will say yes. Perhaps, though they might say yes for a mix of transit less-biased toward rail.

Compare rail with buses. The bus agencies in Sound Transit's taxing district — King County Metro, Pierce Transit, Community Transit and Everett Transit — together have 477,000 boardings a day. The section of light-rail line being built by Sound Transit is supposed to have 45,000 boardings a day. That is less than one-tenth the bus figure.

For actual bus service, Metro charges an 0.9 percent sales tax. For promised light-rail service, Sound Transit has been charging 0.4 percent. You can move many, many more people for the money on buses than on rail.

Yet the proposal is to raise local taxes largely for rail, so that Sound Transit will have the same rate of sales tax as King County Metro's rate.

Think of all the places buses go — in all three counties — and look at the map of where light rail will go, twenty years from now. Light rail is two strands, in the shape of a T. Bus service is a spider web.

Maybe the voters of central Puget Sound will decide to pony up for light rail simply because they like it. If that is the hope, then let's wait until they have a chance to try it.

Let them off the hook this November.
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Old July 21st, 2008, 05:14 AM   #1896
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Seattle Post-Intelligencer Guest Columnist

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinio...transit18.html

Last updated July 17, 2008 3:58 p.m. PT

Make investment in transit now
By MIKE O'BRIEN AND TIM GOULD
GUEST COLUMNISTS

Last year voters turned down Proposition 1, a package that included 50 miles of light rail and 182 miles of highways. The Sierra Club opposed that package because the additional highway lanes would swamp all benefits of increased transit and worsen global warming. Today, the Sierra Club supports Sound Transit presenting the best possible transit-only plan to voters in November.

Transit alternatives will help reduce global warming pollution, half of which comes from vehicles in this region. Scientists say we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming. James Hansen of NASA says carbon in the atmosphere has passed the critical level of 350 parts per million and we must act immediately to reduce it.

With gas prices soaring, demand for alternatives to driving is surging. Around Seattle, the average household spends 53 percent of its income on housing and transportation costs. Transportation costs alone account for more of our income than food and health care combined. And it is getting worse; this data is from 2000 when gas cost $1.59 per gallon compared with Washington's recent average of $4.37.

In the past six months, Americans drove 30 billion fewer miles than they did the previous year. Simultaneously, transit ridership is up significantly. King County Metro, Community Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit Sounder commuter rail and express buses are struggling to accommodate more riders.

Our region needs to invest heavily in better pedestrian and bike infrastructure, more frequent local bus service and regional high-capacity transit, including light rail and bus rapid transit. We will not see a single ballot measure addressing all those city, county and regional needs. That must not stop us from supporting light rail, a critical piece of the puzzle.

Critics point to the Sound Transit proposals and say we need more bus service delivered sooner. It's a valid point. The crisis of global warming demands we make immediate changes in the way we get around, and the rising cost of fuel is creating immediate demand for more transit. We cannot, however, be so shortsighted that we neglect our longer-term needs. Much like balancing the need to pay the mortgage and save for retirement, we need to make smart investments in transit for today and tomorrow.

To meet statutory pollution reduction goals, we will need many options: light rail, buses, bike lanes and tolled roadways. Sound Transit Phase 2 (ST2) is a critical piece of our transportation future that needs to begin now. While its reliance on a sales tax is far from ideal, we can later look to funding sources such as tolling major highways, which can also reduce pollution and manage congestion.

In neighborhoods where there is significant and growing demand for transit, local bus routes simply cannot meet demand. We need light rail or BRT in such corridors. Improvements already are under way, but more are needed.

Snohomish County will soon see the Swift BRT on state Route 99, and King County Metro will have Rapid Ride bus rapid transit running in five places. Where there is higher ridership throughout the day, light rail is necessary. ST2's line from Northgate to downtown Seattle is rated as the best place in the nation to invest in light rail. Additionally, ST2 will nearly double capacity of Sounder commuter trains from Lakewood and Tacoma to Seattle. It improves connections at transit hubs and service levels of express bus service along I-5 between Everett and Seattle.

The station areas also have the potential to transform the way we live by creating sustainable living centers around transit hubs where people can walk, bike or take transit to meet most of their daily needs. This will require Sound Transit to work with local government, neighborhoods and developers to create a future where we reduce our reliance on cars and expensive gas.

We are tired of sitting in our cars burning fuel and dollars, while watching our time evaporate. The Sierra Club strongly urges Sound Transit to let the voters decide on investing in more transit this year.

Mike O'Brien is Cascade Chapter chairman of Sierra Club. Tim Gould is transportation chairman of Sierra Club.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 02:05 PM   #1897
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Seattle Mayor's Editorial in Seattle Times

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...ckelsop23.html

Guest columnist

10 lame reasons to delay mass transit | Greg Nickels

As Sound Transit prepares to move forward with a proposal for the November ballot, there are those who favor more investments in mass transit...

By Greg Nickels

Special to The Times

As Sound Transit prepares to move forward with a proposal for the November ballot, there are those who favor more investments in mass transit, just not this year. We have helpfully compiled a "top 10" list of the reasons to wait:

10) Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it. A two-year delay will enable us to hear from those who are still mustering up the courage to make up their minds.

9) True, the 15-year Sound Transit plan would add light rail, commuter rail and regional buses. If we wait two years, though, it might include hydrogen-powered, personal hovercrafts. That'd be cool.

8) Local media need an infusion of advertising cash from a certain Eastside shopping center developer who wants another two years to tell you that freeways are still the best transportation for the region. No matter what.

7) More debate will give us more information. There's so much more to discuss, it just seems premature to have a vibrant light-rail system after only 40 years of talking about it.

6) There is so much room for new highways, it just makes sense to build new lanes. Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle seems like it is ripe for a little widening. And the Eastside and Montlake are united in wanting a bigger Highway 520, right? Right? Oh, wrong.

5) Mass transit is popular. So popular, you may not have a seat on the bus. But standing all the way home improves your calf muscles and physical stamina. This strength-building exercise works even better in high heels.

4) You can worry more about climate change. Need an extra two years to get your head around species collapse and widespread global drought? Waiting for mass transit will give you time to bone up on the latest news about how our indecision and bad habits are torching the planet. Books on tape are great for the car!

3) By waiting two years, we can do the same project but spend about $1 billion more. With the price of everything going up — steel, concrete, gas — a delay will cost big bucks. But indecision is worth it. Isn't it?

2) Congestion will only get worse. That leaves more time in the car to listen to talk-radio hosts jawbone about the lack of transportation alternatives.

And the No. 1 reason why we should wait for mass transit ...

1) Pumping the car with $70 of gasoline feels more special when there isn't an alternative. Let's face it — gas prices aren't coming down. Why ruin gas-station heartburn by giving people a way out of their cars and into light rail?

(If you have your own reasons, share them at seattletransitblog.com.)

In all seriousness, Sound Transit has a plan. It is reasonable, well-conceived and has regional support. When it comes to adding more mass transit, the people are way ahead of the politicians and pundits. Folks are tired of paying $4.30 for a gallon of gas and seeing no relief at the pump. This 15-year mass transit package would extend light rail to Northgate, Shoreline and Lynnwood. On the Eastside, light rail would run across Mercer Island to Bellevue and Redmond. To the south, it would reach Federal Way.

The investment would also expand and improve regional buses, increasing service in key corridors by about 12 percent overall, and up to 30 percent in some areas. New daily trips would be added to the Tacoma-Seatttle Sounder commuter-rail service. The cost: $69 a year for an adult, about the cost of a single tank of gas (see No. 1 above).

We can't continue to build more freeways to solve our transportation mess. We need options: bus, commuter rail, light rail. This plan is faster, cheaper and smarter than previous measures. It is our best shot at relieving the gridlock that continues to sap our economy and burden our lives.

The debate before us this November is simple: inaction versus action, stalemate versus solutions. We have the backing of business, the environmental community and, according to polls, the majority of residents. Let us no longer delay, but roll up our sleeves and start building the best regional transit network in the nation.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is chair of the Sound Transit Board.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 02:08 PM   #1898
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King County Executive's Editorial in the Seattle Times

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...imsoped23.html

Guest columnist

The wrong investment at the wrong time | Ron Sims

Thursday, the Sound Transit Board may vote to place a 15-year, 0. 5 percent sales-tax increase on November's ballot. The cost of this plan...

By Ron Sims

Special to The Times

Thursday, the Sound Transit Board may vote to place a 15-year, 0.5 percent sales-tax increase on November's ballot. The cost of this plan is $17.8 billion, plus the cost of interest over 30 years.

I am opposed to this approach and remain a strong advocate for a reconfigured plan in 2010. Let me be clear. I support light rail. As board chair earlier in the decade, I worked with Sound Transit to secure federal funding, allowing us to begin construction on the light-rail segment from downtown to the airport, which opens next year.

The current plan, long on future light rail and short on immediate congestion relief, is the wrong investment at the wrong time. Although the plan's projects may come online in 15 years, to finance it, we will continue to pay the increased sales tax until 2039, tying up all of the money this region has to invest in transit until then. We need to get it right. We can do better.

Supporters of this plan say we need "more transit now!" And they're right; more transit now is exactly what we need. As gas prices approach $4.50 per gallon, our buses are bursting at the seams. Unfortunately, the proposed plan is not more transit now; it is mostly light rail later.

Sound Transit's bus capital program is only 2 percent of the total expenditure plan for Sound Transit, Phase 2 (ST2). The estimated $17.8 billion dollars for this plan provides just 60 new buses for the three-county area, half of which will not be in service until after 2015. That adds just an average of 1.3 new buses per year in each of the three counties for the next 15 years.

The proposed light-rail extensions will not open to Bellevue or Northgate until 2020 and to Lynnwood or Des Moines until 2023. Meanwhile, the region's buses operate with standing-room only. People can't wait that long for more transit service. As government, we need to be more responsive. We need relief in 15 months, not 15 years.

The Everett Herald recently urged the Sound Transit Board to "slam on the brakes, take recent ridership growth into account and come up with a plan that addresses today's urgent needs while still planning for the future." That is exactly what we should do. We need more service in the short term while extensions of light rail are under way.

Extending light rail is an important investment for the future, but it doesn't meet our immediate needs. Metro alone has added more than 50,000 new daily riders in the past three years. The region's bus systems are experiencing unprecedented growth, yet their current revenue sources are exhausted.

Rising gas prices already have had a profound effect on increased bus ridership. At the current pace, we will reach $8 per gallon by 2013. The landscape has shifted; we can't wait until 2023. We need more congestion relief and better transportation choices sooner.

Imagine the possibilities if a significant portion of the $17.8 billion were invested in immediate bus service. We could add hundreds of buses to alleviate overcrowding and provide more frequent bus service all over the region.

A plan that addresses our regional transportation needs of today and the future should include Sound Transit as a partner in a number of regional initiatives. Sound Transit could partner with the state and others to offer more transit service as part of the viaduct replacement project. It could partner with other agencies in the region to implement the Urban Partnership grant to establish tolling and improved transit service across Lake Washington. It could greatly build upon the work that King County Metro, Community Transit and Everett Transit are doing to implement bus-rapid-transit routes over the next few years in order to better respond to near-term demand.

Sound Transit has the potential to do all of these things and still extend the light-rail system. But we need the right plan at the right time. This year is not the time to impose a regressive 0.5 percent sales tax. Oil and food prices are up, unemployment is rising and the Dow Jones industrial average is falling. Government has an obligation to give taxpayers a break in hard economic times. This is one of those times.

Buses across our region are full. Now is not the time to ask voters for a big tax increase tying up 30 years of transit investments for little short-term congestion relief. We can do better. Proposing the wrong plan simply because new voters may flock to the November ballot is still wrong.

I believe it is possible for the Sound Transit Board to craft a plan for the 2010 ballot that dramatically increases our short-term transit capacity and invests in future light rail.

King County Executive Ron Sims is a Sound Transit Board member.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 03:38 PM   #1899
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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transp...transit25.html

Last updated July 24, 2008 11:52 p.m. PT

Multibillion-dollar rail, bus plan is up to voters
Expansion would be funded with 0.5% higher sales tax
By LARRY LANGE
P-I REPORTER

Now the next transit-expansion campaign debate can begin in earnest.

Sound Transit board members on Thursday voted to place another expansion measure on November's ballot, a measure now estimated to cost $22.8 billion when the debt is repaid.

Residents in the urban areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties last November rejected a 20-year, $30.8 billion proposal that was part of a larger roads and transit improvement measure. Polled voters later told officials they thought that package was too expensive and took too long.

Now Sound Transit is betting that taxpayers will go for a shorter version, financed with a 0.5 percent increase in sales taxes.

This time, several things are different: Gas prices have risen to more than $4 per gallon, transit ridership is rising in response and another big environmental group is supporting the new package.

However, a former top state transportation official opposes it. And previous opponents are back, arguing this package, too, isn't a good deal.

"It'll be a great debate," said King County Councilman Larry Phillips, one of the 16 board members who voted for the new plan.

Two board members, King County Executive Ron Sims and King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, voted against the plan but agreed to have it put to a vote once it passed the board.

It would extend light-rail service north to Northgate by 2020 and to the Lynnwood Transit Center in Snohomish County and south to Highline Community College by 2020 and to Federal Way by 2023, costing a typical household $125 per year and a typical adult $69 per year, according to agency staff estimates.

The plan also would extend rail across Lake Washington to the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond by 2021.

The measure would increase existing Sounder heavy rail train service to Pierce County by lengthening platforms to accommodate longer trains. A streetcar would link light rail in downtown Seattle to another segment planned under Capitol Hill to the University of Washington.

Bus service would be expanded south of Seattle to Des Moines, Kent and Auburn and east to Woodinville. Frequent "bus-rapid transit" service would be added to the Eastside from Seattle on the Evergreen Point Bridge.

The package rejected in November would have extended light rail north of Lynnwood, south to Tacoma and east to Overlake.

The adopted proposal was a compromise forged after board members from Snohomish and South King counties objected that the 12-year plans wouldn't have provided enough improvements for their constituents, extending only as far as Highline Community College south and north almost to Mill Creek.

Snohomish County board members pushed for and got a 30 percent increase in express-bus hours to their county added to the new plan. It was paid for partly by shifting $40 million from a proposed streetcar-connector project into bus hours and providing $120 million for the work, with Seattle to pay any additional costs.

Pierce County didn't get light rail but is to get a 65 percent increase in bus service between Seattle and Lakewood. Hours before the vote the agency reached a tentative agreement with BNSF Railway to increase Sounder commuter train service to Tacoma. "It was a no vote (for me) until we got that," said Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.

Overall, board members expanded express bus service by 100,000 hours annually regionwide. They said they were responding to demands from commuters who are crowding into transit buses now that gas prices have risen as high as they have. Sims said during peak hours some routes are standing room only and some full buses aren't picking commuters up.

Sims and state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond tried to get bus service hours nearly tripled in the first three years of the plan but other board members rejected the idea, saying it could delay other projects and eat into needed cash reserves.

Sims and von Reichbauer said later the plan doesn't offer enough immediate relief for commuters. But board members supporting the adopted plan said it responded to voters' concerns over last year's proposal and offered more commuting choices. Phillips said there would be some improvements to bus and Sounder service next year if voters OK the proposal.

"People need more options to keep their cars parked at the curb," said board chairman and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. As part of the plan, Sound Transit would install and operate the light rail segment on the Interstate 90 Bridge to the Eastside.

The light rail expansion would add 34 miles to the 13.9-mile segment the agency is building now between Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport, expected to open next year, and to a planned 3-mile, $1.9 billion segment to the University of Washington, planned to open in 2016.

Initially Sound Transit staffers estimated the cost of the plan at $17.8 billion, including construction costs and short-term financing. Thursday they said the total will rise to $22.8 billion over 30 years after adding the 30-year financing cost of construction bonds.

The campaigning for and against the new ballot measure had begun weeks before Thursday's board vote.

The Sierra Club is supporting the new measure, which doesn't include highway improvements like those it opposed in last year's proposal. Higher gas prices have "increased people's awareness of the need for alternatives," said James Irwin, conservation chairman for the club's Cascade Chapter.

Opponents also have been heard from. The NoToProp1.org group, which campaigned against last year's measure, began running radio ads early this month against a measure they sensed was coming. The Eastside Transportation Association, a private group advocating expansion of highways, car pools and bus service, has run a series of radio commercials designed to promote its views.

Former state Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald weighed in with opponents in a recent series of online articles arguing that frequent bus service is a better transit-expansion investment than light rail and noting that a study of the plan's environmental effects won't be ready until late this year, well after Thursday's board vote.

The stance by MacDonald, a former Sound Transit board member, didn't surprise everyone but it adds a prominent personality to the mix.

"You prepare for those comments," said Rob Johnson of the Transportation Choices Coalition, a pro-transit advocacy group supporting the new measure. "Those guys are going to have their arguments and we're going to have our arguments, and the voters decide."

P-I reporter Larry Lange can be reached at 206-448-8313 or [email protected]. Read his Traffic Watch blog at blog.seattlepi.com/seattletraffic.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 10:52 PM   #1900
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This thread is aliveeee! But you all beat me to the articles...
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