Monorail board votes to reject financing, possibly killing project

[NWPT55]The process worked.

The Seattle P-I reports that the Seattle Monorail Project board has voted to reject the controversial financing plan, sending the project back to the drawing board, and likely requiring another public vote before any revised plan could be implemented.

An ad-hoc committee of the monorail board will try to determine how to salvage the project. Exactly what they would do is unclear, but officials said everything is on the table, including trying to come up with a new way to finance the monorail.

Mayor Greg Nickels said the board had “done the right thing.”

“Before the monorail can move forward, the board must ensure that the financial plan and technical design are sound and have the public’s full confidence. The committee’s decision to reject the most recent financing proposal takes us in that direction,” the mayor said in a statement.

You know what? The process worked.

The board should be commended for making a responsible, if painful decision, and the public should be encouraged that the SMP heard their concerns and reacted appropriately.

My guess is, however, that not all the commentary you read will be quite so magnanimous. There are essentially two kinds of Monorail critics: those of us who recognize the need for public transit systems like the Monorail, but demand that our tax dollars be spent more wisely… and those who are simply out for blood. As to the latter, on some other blog there is this guy who fancies himself a “shark”, and in his political feeding frenzy he’s calling for the state Legislature to take this as an opportunity to dissolve the Monorail agency.

If you’re a shark, then eat me.

There is a difference between liberals like me and the nattering naysayers on the other side. I believe that government by the people, for the people, of the people can make this world a better place. They don’t. Thus I see the the board’s decision as a bold example of good governance, while they see it merely as an opportunity for political gainsaying.

But there is no scandal, there is no outrage… there is merely a dedicated group of citizen activists who attempted to build a transit system from the ground up… and failed. To their credit, they recognized their failure, and have decided to step back and evaluate their options, despite the fact that common wisdom says such a move would be political suicide.

Four times the Monorail has been put before voters, and four times it has passed. Perhaps we will see a fifth vote, only this time with detailed plans in place and fixed-price contracts in hand. Or perhaps the board’s decision has killed the Monorail for good.

I voted against the Monorail because I simply did not think it was worth the money. But despite this latest setback, I’m kinda still hoping the SMP eventually proves me wrong.


  1. 3

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    I think that the state legislature should be called into special session(just the transportation committees, then if they have a bill to vote on, call the full legislature), to fix the entire transportation funding mess. One thing that is needed, is a bill re-vamping the monorail authority, and giving them better options. The taxes that the SMP chose, were ones they asked for.

    I used to be opposed to this idea, because it was only being suggested for road construction projects, but why not exempt transit projects from paying taxes on construction materials and the like?

  2. 4

    Richard Pope spews:


    “Sharks” aren’t the only kind of political creatures calling for the state legislature to terminate the Seattle Monorail Project.

    Ken Jacobsen, a Democrat state senator from Seattle’s solidly Democrat and very liberal 46th district, sent a letter to Governor Christine Gregoire yesterday — asking the Governor to immediately call a special session of the state legislature for that very purpose. And Jacobsen was urging other legislators to write the Governor to request a special session as well.

  3. 5

    Mark spews:

    Goldy: “I voted against the Monorail because I simply did not think it was worth the money.”

    What are your thoughts on (un)Sound Transit — especially the North runs?

  4. 6

    righton spews:

    Goldy said, If you’re a shark, then eat me.

    I hope you save your gems for your children.

  5. 7

    righton spews:

    A 5th vote? Aren’t the dems criticizing Gov. Schwartz… for cost of upcoming election? Surely 5 votes on 1 issue must be too much money for you guys….??

  6. 8

    Thomas Trainwinder spews:

    O’Connor retiring. Get ready for a HUGE push to right at the Supreme Court. Good bye Roe v. Wade.

  7. 10

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    A 5th Vote? If that is what it takes, then yes. We need to fix the flaws, and the financing plan is the worst part of it. The ETC wanted to make drivers pay since they would benefit the most from reduced congestio, but still, relying to heavy on the MVET is what got them in this trouble. That and running it through Ballard, and not down Aurora.

  8. 11

    prr spews:

    How is this the process at work?

    Elevated Transit was given 6 million to conduct a study and put together a plan.

    Based on this plan they implemented a bidding process and a tax base, gave themselves raises and are now admitting the entire plan does not work?

    So we are back at step 1 and have funnelled how many millions into this project already?

    I would not call this process a success.

  9. 12

    Sirkulat spews:

    Goldy, the ‘Process’ did not work. The preposterous financing mechanisms are just the tip of the iceberg. There are still fundamental flaws with the route and station siting. Finding a new funding mechanism cannot correct these flaws. The ‘Process’ has always been closed to the public. How else would you NOT know what I mean by ‘fundamental flaws’. You think I’m lying?
    I want the monorail to succeed, but have never been able to support the closed-door, “We Say So”, route selection.

  10. 13

    EvergreenRailfan spews:

    The whole thing should be re-done. Also, when they put the plan on the ballot, they had about 1 million left over, so they gave it back to the city.

  11. 14

    thor spews:

    Be very suspect of the people reaching for headlines in the current monorail media storm – especially members of the Seattle City Council. We need to show some respect for the money, resource and passion already invested in the Monorail and not rush to kill it.

    I never voted for the Monorail. I also didn’t think it was worth the money. (I think Sound Transit is worth the money. It cost me and my neighbors a whole lot less.) But I’ve never had a major beef with the Monorail – provided it worked. And I believed Joel Horn when he said if they can’t reasonably build it on time, on budget and meet expectations, it won’t be built.

    I don’t believe Joel anymore. I fear his zeal to succeed has led him to a bad place and that is sad. I am concerned about the ongoing use of public resource to question the integrity of monorail critics as a way to change the story and spin it in unproductive directions. And Monorail staff really took a dive in my book this week when they misappropriated “facts” in full page ads to make it appear that the Monorail is better than other transportation projects in out region and in the country.

    It isn’t. It is not on time. It is not within budget. And it cannot be built without swallowing an unreasonable finance strategy. Most transportation projects (definately not all) are built on time, within budget and with reasonable financing schemes. That’s the fact.

    But lets not rush to judgement. Let’s give respect to the public spirited people who brought the monorail this far so as to better work with them on what to do next. It looks doubtful that the monorail can heal itself. But there is no good far-sighted reason for leadership within the city to engage in promotion of an unecessarily early death.

  12. 15


    I think it is about time for the Supreme court to “take a turn right” The court has been liberal for a long time. I am a big believer in the balance of power theory. I think a good 40 years of a right leaning Supreme court should balance things out.

  13. 16

    Liking it spews:

    Goldy said, “… there is merely a dedicated group of citizen activists who attempted to build a transit system from the ground up… and failed. To their credit, they recognized their failure, and have decided to step back and evaluate their options, . . .”

    Sure. They recognized their failure under threat of being dissolved. But only after everybody else in the entire state knew it was a failure.

    I would not have expected this spin from you – Goldy.