Light rail or something else? Along Interstate 5? 15th NE? Aurora?

Friday, September 10, 2010

By Brian Doennebrink

Sound Transit staff wants your ideas for extending mass transit from Northgate to Lynnwood, appearing at Echo Lake Neighborhood’s monthly meeting, Tuesday, September 21, Shoreline City Hall, 175th and Midvale, 7-9 pm. All are invited.

Many are no doubt expecting that this is a “done deal,” Northgate to Lynnwood along Interstate 5, light rail, with four stations, Shoreline’s at N. 185th, but none of this is necessarily so. As part of the requirements for the obtaining a federal grant towards the project, an “alternatives analysis” is required, including comparing different mass transit options, e.g. bus rapid transit and light rail, and different corridors, e.g. Interstate 5, 15th NE, and Aurora.

What Sound Transit staff and ultimately their Board members are hoping to find out is what do you want the system to do for you? What options should be looked at? If there are stations, where should they be? What are the obstacles and considerations involved?

Formal meetings will occur on:
  • October 7 (Ingraham High School, North Seattle), 
  • October 12 (Lynnwood Convention Center), 
  • October 14 (Shoreline Center) from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., with a presentation beginning at 6:45 p.m. that’s followed by a workshop.

To request accommodations for persons with disabilities: 1-800-201-490 /TTY Relay: 711 or email. For more information or to arrange an interpreter: 1-800-823-9230 during regular business hours. More information online. Free email updates from the webpage.

Submit comments through their web questionnaire or by email or by mail to Roger Iwata, Sound Transit, 401 S Jackson St., Seattle 98104 or by phone: Roger Iwata at 206-689-4904.


jniles September 12, 2010 at 3:19 PM  

For Sound Transit, an alternatives analysis between buses and trains for an officially-designated light rail corridor that has already had its source of funding approved by voters (in the Prop 1 votes of November 1996 and November 2008) is the papering of a decision already made.

Light rail will likely come through in the environmental analysis with flying colors as the best transit to build. The funders at Federal Transit Administration (FTA) needing convincing by Sound Transit are already on board, as long as the President and Congress provide enough money in the FTA budget.

The only problem, even with the Prop 1 tax hikes, is securing even more money over the next few years to pay for light rail coming north from Seattle downtown beyond Husky Stadium out to Northgate in the scheduled time frame.

With falling sales tax revenue from the recession, delay is now likely. A big and necessary new grant from the FTA -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- cannot be assumed until the nation has recovered from the economic downturn.

Key point to know: The amount of delay in bringing light rail to Shoreline can be minimized by not diverting any of Sound Transit's tax stream to expanding express bus service in the meantime.

For Shoreline citizens seeking better transit sooner than 2025 by making buses work better now with Sound Transit's tax stream, there is a steep hill to climb.

An agency like Sound Transit with the mission of building light rail has cooked up plenty of its own evidence to convince the public that spending all the available transit money for future train service makes sense.

Good luck, and enjoy the show!

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