In supporting Kemper Freeman’s lawsuit to block Sound Transit’s access to I-90, and in arguing against crossing I-90 but for choosing a 520 route instead, Hutchison is clearly stating her intent to obstruct ST’s efforts to build the line approved by voters. And with the county Executive appointing 10 of the 17 seats on ST’s board, don’t think she can’t do it.
Now I know there are many folks who would prefer a 520 alignment (for example, Darryl commutes from Redmond to the UW, so it would work out great for him), but if wishes were horses beggars would ride and all that… and they certainly wouldn’t be riding the train. I myself would have preferred a South Seattle alignment that went down Rainier AVE, and included a stop at S. Graham ST, but, well, you know, screw me.
The point is, as the transit wonks at Seattle Transit Blog explain in their usual wonky detail, the cross-lake issue has already been studied, debated and deliberated ad infinitum, and no amount of wanting or wishing would make the 520 alignment any more feasible. It would be more expensive, would take longer to build, and would generate less ridership and revenue than the I-90 route. And, the University Link tunnel simply wouldn’t have the capacity to handle all the extra north-south traffic.
But most importantly, moving light rail to a new 520 bridge span would put off construction by years, dramatically raising costs, and potentially killing the project altogether. A project, by the way, that voters overwhelmingly approved, knowing it would cross I-90.
After Sound Transit’s initial birth pains, its early mismanagement and poor projections, the Central Link line nearly died on the drawing board too. And it would have, if not for the willingness of elected officials like Ron Sims, Greg Nickels, Larry Phillips and yes, Dow Constantine to stick their necks out and spend political capital in defense of what many others at the time had already written off as a doomed vision.
Leadership matters, and in speaking out against the I-90 alignment while endorsing the Washington Policy Center’s anti-transit prescriptions and embracing the patronage of racist, anti-light-rail xenophobe Kemper Freeman, Hutchison has clearly signaled her intent to lead the effort in undermining ST’s voter-approved Eastside expansion.
So if you supported last year’s transit measure, and support building rail to the Eastside, vote for Constantine. Otherwise, a vote for Hutchison is clearly a vote to kill East Link, whether she’s willing to come out and say it or not.