[NWPT55]While I hate to disappoint the knee-jerk righties over at (un)Sound Politics, I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of the Seattle Monorail. But as long as they continue to lead their coverage with the headline “Die, Monorail, Die”, it’s hard not to oppose the opposition, despite my misgivings. Monorail opponents seem to have a one-track mind, and that mind has long be set on derailing the project, whatever the final proposal might be.
I voted for every monorail initiative, except for the one that authorized the final project. As much as I believe in public transit, and as much as I believe a fancy new monorail will become an instant symbol of 21st century Seattle, when I saw the details, it just didn’t seem worth the cost, especially given the means of financing it. Still, the people had spoken — however narrowly — and when the incredibly cynical “Monorail Recall” initiative hit the ballot last fall, I voted against it. If we’re going to allow opponents of public projects unlimited opportunities to kill them by plebiscite, we’ll never build anything.
I know, I know… nuance is a weakness progressives simply can’t afford, and with the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-infrastructure crowd attacking the gas tax and the monorail on purely ideological grounds, somebody on our side has to be just as reactionary if we’re going to have a hope of maintaining an informed debate in the middle. From what I’ve seen the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) board is more than up to the task, so I don’t have to be. That’s why I’m going to take a long, hard look at the final proposal released yesterday, before voicing my opinion one way or the other.
But one detail already has me worried. My main reason for voting against the monorail was the huge chunk it took out of voters’ car tabs… this year I’m paying a $177.00 monorail tax on my four-year-old Nissan Altima (the older, anemic model, not the newer fancier one.) My concern was that during the 25 years it took to pay off the bonds, voters would never approve a similar tax for other important transportation projects… you know, like the other half of the financing for replacing the dangerously crumbling Alaska Way Viaduct.
Now we’re told that due to rising costs and lower revenues, the car tab will be needed until 2050… nearly twice the number of years originally estimated. Ouch.
If I were a Seattle City Council member, I would be loath to overturn the will of the voters and reject this proposal… but I would still need to be convinced that it delivers something reasonably close to what voters were promised. I urge the Council to explore the details very carefully, and vote their minds not their hearts.
I’ll come back to this issue with a more informed opinion after I’ve had the opportunity to digest the facts.