Sunday, November 16, 2008

Election Results 2008

Well the Sound Transit proposition won. We’ll get more miles on the light rail system. They’re planning a ring around the Puget Sound bathtub.

Bellevue has an area of low level development and high level asphalt east of the main downtown area. There was a Safeway distribution center, Coke warehouse, and a lumber yard among hundreds of other expansive type places.

Metro Transit has a big bus parking lot in the area. Burlington Northern provided rail freight on its now closed on the eastside. In fact the rail line kind of defined the boundary of this area.
Bellevue’s no longer proud of the low density business. For years those businesses paid tax money into the city because they had such large chunks of ground. Now the downtown high rise development pays most of the commercial tax and these places east of the tracks are being left behind.

A lot of the big space businesses are pulling out and heading for places where the property tax rates are lower. This leaves some big empty warehouse and parking areas. Bellevue wants to control what goes in there. Or at least set a lot of conditions.

One of their ideas is to use that area as a kind of landing zone for the eastside light rail. Sound Transit is hoping to run the rails over the lake and into downtown Bellevue. They think a lot of people will ride. A small part of the Link will potentially use the BNSF line. And then past there we’re looking at some maintenance facilities.

Which has me wondering – Is Bellevue going to have as much fun as Seattle?
Seattle has the South Lake Union Trolley. It goes up and down for little reason. I pass by that way about once a month and I see bright trolleys but nobody riding except the driver. Bellevue could have one of those.

Seattle also has a tunnel as part of the light rail line from downtown to Sea-Tac. Bellevue has hills. It seems logical to find some way to have a tunnel in the eastside system. That’s how it could reach Newcastle!

I-90 is part of Ike’s Interstate system. In the 1930s they began hauling rocks and dirt from Maple Valley (it use to be Maple Hill) and dumping it into Lake Washington. The goal was to construct a mid-lake land bridge between Bellevue and Seattle. Well they finally gave up and installed a four lane floating bridge in 1940. The fill was named Mercer Island and in order to save face they made it a city and let people build houses on it. We’d never get away with trying to fill in a lake these days – too many whiners.

Anyway, Sound Transit wants to run the East Link Light Rail on I-90. So I’m wondering who they have to ask. The feds probably think they still own the highway, but you know how they are.

Washdot wants to use the other floating bridge for the light rail line. That’s the one everyone thinks is about to sink. Thus it needs to be replaced immediately or at least before 2050. One of the big arguments is whether to make the new pontoons bigger than they need to be. Here’s why: people in Seattle want to keep it to four lanes. But Washdot is pretty sure that if they need to make it six lanes someday they’ll have to replace those pontoons with bigger ones. So why not make them bigger now? In addition they may want to add light rail. So now the pontoons are really big. But they’re under water so what’s the big deal? Cost. Building pontoons much bigger than the approved roadway would annoy toll payers and Timmy the nut.

Timmy would start an initiative campaign that in essence would require pontoons made out of old plastic bags. And at some point the Supreme Court in Olympia would declare it null and void, but the process would add years and millions of $$$ to the cost. And maybe the old bridge would sink during all this.

See, the problem with Timmy is his ideas sound OK at first but if you think them through it’s just not workable. For example some of the wagon trains on the Oregon Trail got diverted by a billboard advertising Mount Rushmore but when they arrived it was just a regular mountain. In those days nobody had carved presidents into mountains. Then winter came.

So the question for Washdot is this: “When will Winter come and stop your plans for light rail on SR 520?"
I also have a question for California: "Are you crazy? Don't you know your Supreme Court will have to set aside the Prop 8 result?" Two reasons: 1. in our 2008 enlightened time we all should realize you can't discriminate about whom a person chooses to marry. 2. It's almost completely certain the victims of this stupid initiative are not the ones that voted for it - so you can't have one group deciding what's right for another group. So Cal tax payers will have to pay for the courts to hear this nonsense and overturn it. They deserve it.


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