Happy New Year! Maybe I’m too optimistic but I believe the New Year marks the “beginning of the end” for all of Sound Transit Prop 1 extensions, especially East Link. My optimism is based on the fact this post has, for some time, had an audience of 250-350 viewers every week. Thus, large numbers of those I’ve referred to the blog (Sound Transit Board, Legislative Joint Transportation Committee, King County Council, Seattle, Mercer, and Bellevue Councils, Seattle Times and Bellevue Reporter) are aware of (or should be aware of) the fact the Prop 1 Central Link extensions won’t have enough riders to justify its cost and East Link won’t have enough capacity to justify confiscating the I-90 bridge center roadway.
I’m reminded of the Hans Christian Anderson fable where a little girl’s cry “The King has no clothes” alerted villagers. All it would take to stop Sound Transit is for someone; a board member, legislator, newspaper editor, or King County official to speak out. The Seattle, Mercer or Bellevue city councils could stop it by disallowing the permits Sound Transit needs. It’s inconceivable those in a position to prevent this debacle would knowingly allow Sound Transit to spend the next 10 years and $20 billion creating it. Particularly in view of the funding shortfalls our area faces with congestion currently ranked 4th worst in the country.
The upcoming legislative session is the best place to start. Legislators can use their oversight responsibility to require the WSDOT refuse to allow ST to confiscate the I-90 bridge center roadway for light rail. They should also insist ST has a moral if not legal responsibility to spend East Link funds on eastside transportation improvements (e.g. 520). The Seattle Times could do a lot to ease the entire area’s transportation funding crisis with editorials and articles supporting stopping East Link and Central Link extensions rather than more burdensome gas taxes and fees. Continued acquiescence will only escalate the cost and delay the benefits.
Time will tell whether my optimism was warranted.