(Recent Times articles prompted this post in another attempt to get their attention to Sound Transit problems. It’s the latest of several posts and countless emails to the Times)
The Thursday and Friday Seattle Times front page “above the fold” articles “Blunders bust 520 budget” and “Hole gets deeper to pull out transportation-tax package” continues their ineptitude when it comes to addressing the area’s transportation concerns. The “Blunders” article is just the latest of several critical of the WSDOT for their failure to require “post tensioning” during fabrication of the concrete pontoons apparently resulting in a $208 million additional coat. The “Budget Hole” article is their latest attempt to urge the legislators to increase gas taxes as the “transportation fix”.
What the Times doesn’t "get" is the fact the cost from the WSDOT pontoon “mistake” pales in comparison to those associated with their monumental blunder some 15 years ago when they agreed with Sound Transit that light rail was the way to provide cross-lake mass transit. They followed up that blunder by co-authoring the 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that neglected to even consider two-way bus only lanes capable of 1000 buses per hour in each direction on the I-90 Bridge center roadway. As a result, ST will spend $2.8 billion on a light rail system likely limited to 2-car trains every 8 minutes on the center roadway. Cross-lake vehicles will inevitably face frequent gridlock on the outer roadways, the route into Bellevue will be devastated, and BelRed development will be problamatic (See 1/04/14 Post).
As far as the “Budget Hole”, the Times still doesn’t “get it” that allowing Sound Transit to spend $15-20 billion over the next ten years on light rail extensions to Federal Way and Lynnwood will result in a light rail system with operating costs far too expensive for any rational ridership predictions (12/18/13 post). (Particularly since commute times for most light rail riders will be longer that what’s already available or could easily be available on buses.)
They also don’t “get it” that the only way for ST to make Central Link viable is to implement a T/C at the University light rail station. It could add thousands of riders in both directions as an interface between light rail and 520 transit commuters. East side commuters could use BRT from their local P&R to light rail trips into Seattle and Seattleites BRT to work locations on the eastside.
In conclusion, the Times refusal to “get it” has already cost the area dearly by acquiescing to ST “investing” hundreds of millions in Central Link extensions too expensive to operate and an East Link light rail without the capacity to meet cross lake demand. These costs however pale in comparison to the price the entire area will pay if they continue to do so.