Copyright 2000 Park Projects. Please feel free to use the article and photos below in your research. Be sure to quote the Jet City Maven as your source.

Setting the record straight


In 1996, following years of study and planning in cooperation with neighborhood groups and local jurisdictions, a majority of voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties approved a measure to raise taxes to construct a regional transit system.

This system included commuter rail between Everett and Tacoma, several new regional express bus routes, and an electric light rail system providing service between SeaTac, Tukwila, southeast Seattle, downtown Seattle, First Hill, Capitol Hill and the University District (with a possible extension to Northgate if funds were to become available).

While 70 percent of Seattle voters approved the Sound Move plan, some neighborhoods in my northeast Seattle district supported the measure by a remarkable 80 percent.

That was some time ago. Since then, hundreds of public hearings have been conducted, environmental impact statements have been issued, system designs have been carried out to further detail, and alignment choices have been debated and selected.

The price of the light rail project, in particular, has escalated. The same hot local economy that has put the price of a first home out of reach for many or has caused your property assessment to increase dramatically has also raised the cost for the right-of-way purchases necessary for light rail. Local communities have requested, and in some cases been granted, improvements to the light rail system in their neighborhood. These changes, more often than not, have increased the cost of light rail.

A number of our community leaders are raising legitimate questions about the project, and that's to be expected as we get close to beginning construction. I, along with other board members, am not willing to move forward with this project until I am satisfied that those questions have been answered.

Answers to some of those questions are readily available. For others, it's not a matter of whether, but when. Within the next few months, several key pieces of critical information will be before the public and the Sound Transit Board for full scrutiny. We are all waiting to see if 13 years of work will have been well spent.

A new economic and financial assessment is being developed that will include updated cost estimates, and updated revenue estimates so we'll better know what we can afford. The Sound Transit Board is already beginning its review of a federal grant agreement that will assure that some of our federal tax dollars will come back to this region to help address our transportation needs.

And we will see the design concepts and costs associated with them for constructing the most challenging component of the system - the tunnel to serve First Hill, Capitol Hill and the University District. This information will give all of us a chance to see the full picture before a shovel of dirt is turned.

In closing, I must make two important corrections to statements made by Metropolitan King County Councilmember Maggi Fimia in the Jet City Maven a couple of issues back:

First, funding light rail DOES NOT threaten existing bus service. Sound Transit has its own voter-approved funding source, as does King County Metro Transit. It is not possible for any of the funding for existing King County bus service to be reallocated to Sound Transit's light rail project. I am surprised that the chair of the Metropolitan King County Council's Regional Transit Committee would be confused about transit funding sources.

Second, to claim that North King County is without representation on the Sound Transit Board is both wrong and an insult to those of us who represent North King County on the board. In fact, North King County has more representation on the Sound Transit Board than any of the five sub-areas. King County Executive Ron Sims, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, Metropolitan King County Councilmember Greg Nickels and Seattle City Councilmember Richard McIver join me in representing the North King County sub-area. Furthermore, one of the positions allocated to the East King County sub-area is Kenmore's own Deputy Mayor Jack Crawford.

Cynthia Sullivan is a member of the Metropolitan King County Council, representing Northeast Seattle neighborhoods, and is a member of the Sound Transit Board. She lives in Wedgwood.