FAQ: Sound Transit's Proposal

Q: What is Sound Transit's plan for providing rail transit on the Eastside?

A: Sound Transit has proposed extending its light rail line, which is currently under construction between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac International Airport, across the I-90 floating bridge through downtown Bellevue and on to Redmond.

Q: Would there be any conflict from Eastside Rail Now's proposal with Sound Transit's plan?

A: No. Sound Transit has proposed a very different type of project with a very different timeline. Specifically, it involves a nearly completely different corridor and would likely not become operational at least until the year 2027, according to Sound Transit. Eastside Rail Now's proposed line could, in sharp contrast, become operational within two years, would serve the corridor that is said to suffer from the greatest traffic congestion in the entire region (the I-405 corridor), and would cost only a small fraction of what Sound Transit's project would cost.

Q: 2027 is very far into the future. Why does Sound Transit want to wait so long?

A: One reason is that it has been giving priority to its light rail and commuter rail lines through Seattle, which have been taking much longer than originally expected. Another is that the proposed line to the Eastside is a very complex project and thus the planning and detailed engineering work will take a long time.

Q: What is Eastside Rail Now's official position regarding Sound Transit's proposed line to the Eastside?

A: Eastside Rail Now! is in favor of balanced transportation, particularly solutions that can provide high quality transportation at minimal cost, as quickly as possible, and with minimal adverse effect on the environment and public health. Light rail can play a key role in such transportation, and it works very well in a large and growing number of cities around the world.

In general, it makes very good sense to connect large, adjacent urban cores with high quality, direct rail transportation. However, Sound Transit is faced with an extremely challenging task because of the unusual topography and geographical constraints of making such connection between Seattle and Bellevue. These constraints have made such a linkage extremely costly and controversial.

Q: What are the main objections by people on the Eastside to Sound Transit's plan?

A: The objections vary according to the person or group, but the most commonly heard relate to (1) problems with using the I-90 floating bridge, (2) disruption of long-established residential neighborhoods south of downtown Bellevue, (3) high cost, (4) the two decade delay in starting rail transit on the Eastside, (5) little advantage over using express busses on the same corridor and (6) selection of the wrong corridor for the Eastside's first rail transit service.

Q: Would it actually be possible to design and build a system that overcame all or most of these objections?

A: Yes, it might be possible.

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This page created March 5, 2007. Updated April 4, 2007.
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