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July 22, 2008 4:33 PM

Nickels and Sims have it out over Sound Transit vote

Posted by Kate Riley

soundtransit.gif Greg Nickels and Ron Sims are wrangling over whether to ask voters to approve a $17.8 billion bond measure to launch Sound Transit, Phase 2.


Seattle Mayor Nickels is for it; and King County Executive Sims is against it -- at least right now. They lay out their cases in op-ed columns in the Wednesday Times.

Vote on the topic and let us know what you think:

Ron Sims: The wrong investment at the wrong time

Greg Nickels: 10 lame reasons to delay mass transit


Also here is the Seattle Times editorial board's July 20 position: Light Rail can Wait



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Posted by Concerned

4:01 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Of course Sims doesn't want it. He wants the money to pay for his overinflated and overpriced Sewer system called "Brightwater". You should see some of the figures and cost overruns. I think the tax payers should know how King County has totally mismanaged this project, and is passing on the costs to the tax payers. Way to go Ron Sims. I think if you dig a little bit into how this job has been handled, you will not like what you come up with.

Posted by thehousedog

4:10 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I was against RTID last year: too much money, too little progress right now. This plan has me interested, but only a little. However, the Puget Sound needs to start with *something* and perhaps this is what that something needs to be. I will be voting yes for this with one hand and holding my nose with the other.

Posted by More of the Same

4:19 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Well said Mr. Mayor. I will vote for Obama so Sims can fulfill his dream of moving to D.C. It is his power grabbing self-interest that has halted meaningful transportation gains in this region for years. With that resolved we can explore novel concepts like the consolidation of all public transport under Sound Transit. This will provide increased accountability and efficiency for our regions greatest challenge.

Posted by Ed209

4:28 PM, Jul 22, 2008

What is the fasination with increasing the sales tax? Is it really the only option?

I'm inclined to agree with Sims (as I sit on a standing room only bus)

Posted by vanderleun

5:00 PM, Jul 22, 2008

This will be years late, far too little, will cost huge sums over what is currently advertised (See Boston's Big Dig) and give us a lot less flexibility.

Posted by Edwardgr

5:08 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I voted yes on the last package that was ultimately rejected so I am inclined to vote yes for this as well. While Ron makes an interesting point regarding busses he fails to acknowledge the the BRT systems going in on Aurora and 15th/Elliott (Metro and CT initiatives). He also fails to acknowledge that adding additional Sounder trains on the North/South corridor has the potential to free-up busses that are in use on that corridor for redistribution to other areas. Is this big yes, is it expensive, of course, is it immediate, not all of it. But then nothing the other options are big, expensive, and delayed to some extent as well.

The only addition I would like to see is an eastside commuter rail from say Tacoma to Redmond, unfortunately the tracks that were best positioned for that are being turned into a walking trail, way to go Ron.

Posted by West Seattleite

5:09 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Gridlock Greg is at it again - a well deserved nickname once again realizing its full potential. No need to say more. When is the next mayoral election, by the way?

Posted by barn537

5:18 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Sims had no problem spending tax dollars to put MLK on all County vehicles and changing all paper forms to have MLK at the top. How in the middle of a $67 million shortfall did Sims find the cash? Seattle has no subway and antiquated roads. Time to step up to the plate. This guy had the nerve to accept an award and take a bow after announcing he was cutting jails, police and every other County service. Time for Sims to take a train!

Posted by Joe

6:03 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Wow....where are the east/west lines of anything? I no longer support anything by either of these knuckleheads.

Where is everyone's head? They just reported that the state is unhappy that people are riding transit and the gas tax is now creating a shortfall because less are filling up but rather riding a bus.

If we can't make a bus system ever work in the Puget Sound, what makes anyone think that they can make light rail work. Oh, ok, if you go to the airport or need to go to the UW, you will be taken care of.

I would like to see the city/county/state privatize the bus sytem(s) and let private companies make them work. We have a couple of large companies that have begun their own service and this should be the reminder that our fearless leaders don't have a clue on how to move people around town.

I too will vote for Obama and hope Sims heads east and for the Mayor.....well, his foot is already in his mouth.....the question is how many dems are willing to vote against him the next time around. If you do, maybe he can take a few thousand plastic bags with him as well!

Posted by Fudwamper

6:43 PM, Jul 22, 2008

How come people always come up with the slogan "Not now" or "We are just not ready for it."

Sims' argument is horrible. It only looks to the tip of your nose. The rail is a long-term solution and that is what the whole Western Washington metropolitan area needs. How long does it take to drive from Everett to Seattle? Heck, I could make an argument for rail from Marysville to Tacoma. Sure the lines will take time to produce. That is a given. We need to think LONG term and implement short-term measures as well.

Looking at the rejected and the new proposed lines, that looks like a start to a good transportation plan.

Procrastination gets you nothing.

Posted by rail_yes

6:58 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I agree with Mr. Sims to a point. We do need more transit now, and this is what we voted on three years ago, transit now or has he forgotten? But we also need to establish an infrastructure that was demolished back in 1947 when the last street car ran our streets. Having light rail in place for our future generations also needs to be considered, currently we do not have rights-of-way for our street cars or Sounder trains. Only the light rail has this and we need to puchase and begin now, not in 20 years when land will be even more expensive. Let's leave our kids something they feel we thought about, not a freeway like mine left me, thank you.

P.S. Boston's Big Dig has nothing to do with light rail. Get over it.

Posted by recent_grad

8:09 PM, Jul 22, 2008

This vote isn't just about relieving traffic congestion now; it's about making the region viable as an attractive place for people to live and work in the future.

I grew up here in Seattle and I recently graduated from a college on the east coast, in a city where rail travel was common and extensive. After spending four years getting around on the subway/light rail, coming home and being reliant upon a car or buses that stop every two blocks is aggravating, to say the least.

Bottom line, in the long-term, neither I nor any of my peers will be looking to stay in or move to Seattle or any other major city which lacks a fast, modern mass-transit system. Buses and BRT don't satisfy this requirement.

Posted by jan

8:44 PM, Jul 22, 2008

This dispute between Nickels and Sims is fun to watch but mostly just for sport and hardly the major drama to watch. The big story is with people who make tough choices that cost them every day in their commute.

Nickels has remained true on this subject, Sims has waffled and seems to be mostly about King County Metro over anything else. He's not being upfront about that. And he should be.

Sims seems stuck. Nickels seems more interested in getting us all -- not just Seattle -- better. Sims seem turfy about his buses. Nickels seems big picture and smarter without the turf of Metro dragging him down.

The people who want more buses now as opposed to rail later have not made their case. They'll have plenty of time to do better before we vote this fall. Thank goodness the people get to vote.

This package has been about 50 years in the making and voters are more than prepared to weigh the costs and benefits to them, and make the right choice.

Posted by TrainRider

9:31 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Frankly, any plan that doesn't include some kind of rail between Renton and Bellevue is a non-starter. Studies dating back years have identified I-405 as one of the most congested stretches of freeway in several states. Recently, Bellevue was described as having nine of the ten worst commutes out of town. There is no good way to get out of Bellevue from about 2:00pm on.

A rail line from the airport should go near Southcenter, intersect with the Sounder at the Tukwila station, then run up the existing tracks with several stops along the lake. From there, it can keep going to Bothell. Watching three or four trains go by while driving the nine miles from Renton to Bellevue, or the even longer nine miles the other way, will surely attract riders to the rails.

Posted by this_is_old

9:44 PM, Jul 22, 2008

I commute exclusively on the 405 corridor, and this plan does zero for me. The fact that the county deems it best to turn the one rail corridor on the east side into a walking trail frustrates me beyond belief, and makes it seem a bit dense to pay for new track while they busily tear up good.

Posted by KPinSEA

10:13 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Nothing convinces me to oppose a measure like the smarmy smart-alecky approach of Greg Nickels. Why couldn't Clay Bennett have bought this clown and taken him to Oklahoma City?

Posted by G-Man

10:40 PM, Jul 22, 2008

There was nothing in the last package to help us in Kirkland, and I don't image there is anything in this one. Let's wait and see if they can actually get the route they have open in 2009 and if it is as good as they claim. Meanwhile, give us some Sound Transit Express buses here so we can benefit from these taxes.

By the time any Eastside route is open, I'll be retired, probably have left the region, and may have died.

Posted by T. G. Yasutake

10:55 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Light rail cannot wait or be put off any further. Man, I'm biting at the bit to take the Sound Transit to a Sonics game!!! Greatest joy ever to take the Sound Transit to a game where Kevin Durant hits the game winner on a last second in bound play.

Me, myself, I'll be sitting enjoying Starbucks in a brand new sporting venue because our politicians didn't cower to a pirate and me and Howard Schultz will still be on good terms. Of course, my daughter will be enjoying this culturally rich and relevant sporting exhibition. I can go to the game effortlessly without being snarled in traffic. Me and my daughter will get there early to grab something to eat at Jalisco's. Good Times.

I'm glad our local city government is as passionate about trains and buses as they are about our local sports franchises. Whew! What would we do without them? They're so in touch with the passions of their constituents. I'll be riding the Sound Transit to Sonics games for years to come like taking the Blue or Red lines to Madison Square Garden to see the Knicks or taking the Blue Line to the Rose Garden in Portland or even riding the BART to see the Warriors play.

Posted by Jax

11:01 PM, Jul 22, 2008

There isn't any proof of the sound transit train being a success yet and he wants to invest $17 billion more into it? I'm voting no, to him and his ideas. I wouldn't put it past the Mayor to try and change the name of Seattle to Greenattle.

Posted by John Bailo

11:04 PM, Jul 22, 2008

Here is what will solve gridlock:
Widen 405, especially exits 1 through 4. We need two more lanes in either direction.
Widen 169. Two lanes more, both ways.
Get rid of 520 and it's pernicious intersections.
Turn Mercer exit from I-5 into a short stretch of Interstate -- maybe a loop that runs up Western and lets off near Ballard.
We need more bicycle paths. We need to reward people for riding their bikes. I propose using the RFID chip cards to pay people for riding their bikes and putting money into their pockets.

Posted by CBurger

11:48 PM, Jul 22, 2008

A light rail system is long overdue - unfortunately this won't fix it tomorrow. I guess we have to start sometime. It looks like a lot of people would be interested in extending rail to their neck of the woods on the next go-around - Everett, Renton, Issaquah, Ballard, West Seattle

Posted by Daisy

8:08 AM, Jul 23, 2008

The article "Light Rail Can Wait" should be renamed to "LIght Rail Can Wait and so can you on your stuck-in-traffic bus"
The upside of rail and the reason I would ride it over a bus would be it's punctuality, speed, and frequency of service.
Sure the bus is mostly punctual, but at 75-90 minutes to get from North Seattle to Bellevue... no thank you. I'll stick to my bike which is almost as fast as the bus!!! My bike travel time and bus transit time should not be in the same ballpark.

Posted by cynic

8:09 AM, Jul 23, 2008

Nothing to Renton, or southeast King County. And if this holds to form, we will get half the track for twice the cost of what we approve. No thanks.

Posted by Publicbulldog

8:36 AM, Jul 23, 2008

The Washington state transportation system has been left to run down and slowly decay. People die every year due to the fact that concrete dividers are not built on dangerous highways. Bridges and other structures are left to someday fall down while in use.

Washington State has chosen to resort to cop-out social engineering rather than properly invest in the transportation system. Most of the available funding that is invested is diverted to the gentrification of urban centers and woefully inadequate quick or cheap fixes that just add another job to the blue pages.

Washington State has lost more revenue from the lack of transportation infrastructure investments, than would have supposedly been saved by investing in the cop-out social engineering schemes. Commercial traffic, poor people, rural populations and recreational traffic have all suffered unnecessarily from the draconian choices made by our legislators and transportation planners. These transportation choices are restricting the freedoms of the people of Washington State, costing our economy millions of dollars, are more appropriate for the fascist form of rule and are not appropriate for a free society. RCW 47.01.078(4) escalates what could be considered borderline fascist rule and graduates to hard-core fascism. Washington State is headed towards a fascist carry-on economy that aims to pack people into the city centers like lemmings, and take transit everywhere they need to go, for everything no bigger than a bread box. Poor people will struggle to afford everything bigger than a bread box due to delivery fees. People will not be able to travel to the wonderful sights our state has to offer with a lane miles limit. Our state will attempt to bring those sights to you in your very own personal urban cubicle. The people will be restricted into a crowded urban life, which will force square pegs into round holes just to set the apple cart up in the city while we pretend we are saving a whale, salmon, and frog. RCW 47.01.078(4) aims to take the fascist policies up a notch, and acquire a fill in of the urban centers at the expense of the American way -- freedom.

Levx systems ride on a pocket of air that prevents friction, and requires substantially less energy to operate than any other mode of transportation. Levx operates at a speed far superior to that of light rail, and is cheaper to build than bus rapid transit. Levx will out perform all other modes of travel and will require no H.O.V. support systems to coerce a mode shift. Commuters will be able to travel between city centers at incredible speeds and with less energy use. Levx is superior to light rail in every way, except in achieving inner city gentrification ,filling in of urban centers or getting touched on the head with a sword in spain. However, Levx will remove more commuters from the roads and free the roads up for commercial and by pass traffic. Levx will reduce congestion and the need for interstate investments while at the same time drastically reducing emissions. Light rail is too expensive, will travel too slow, stop too much, and will use far more energy than Levx. Continuing to use light rail outside of the large urban centers, will be a revenue corrupt sophist decision. Seattle was the only place with enough density to justify light rail investments. All future mass transit investments should be made on Levx not light rail. All future requests for public funding should be for Levx not light rail.

Posted by crk on bellevue ave

9:10 AM, Jul 23, 2008

Seeing as how it takes a good 10 or 15 years to build mass transit systems, I too think we should wait another ten years or so before investing in them.

The biggest problem with this region is we are so isolated geographically we dont see how other metropolitan areas manage their transit systems. People need to travel more.

Vote yes on the thing to get it funded then deal with details. I agree about a line to kirkland, but it shouldn't be a showstopper as there plenty of elections ahead where we can add it to the system already being built. It isn't like we have to finish building this system first before we can add any more lines to it. We can always grow it before it is complete.

Posted by Steven Berry

9:46 AM, Jul 23, 2008

I suppose this is what happens when you elect a man with an AA degree to the position of Mayor of what was formerly a nice and workable city. Now at every level in this town the new reality is chaos and a feeling that our lives are out of control. Good
luck with this person in charge.

Posted by seattlenative

10:43 AM, Jul 23, 2008

We've wasted the environment and our money on gas for our cars for way too long. The natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest should be enough to inspire us to lead the world in sustainable living.

One major aspect of that is light rail and walkable communities.

Posted by seattlenative

11:01 AM, Jul 23, 2008

Seattle Times, you are wrong! There are two problems here:
1. Your job is to REPORT THE NEWS, not provide economic advice or attempt to sway public opinion on any matter, whether it be mass transit or presidential elections.

2. Your economic advice wrong and misleading. The last vote on mass transit failed at a time when gas prices were around $2.50 a gallon. I don't have to tell you what the price is now because I'm sure you and all your readers are painfully aware of it.
More mass transit will provide a cheaper commute option for many who receive employer subsidized transit fare and will decrease congestion on roads and freeways. Increased ridership and decreased congestion will both lead to a decrease in the demand for gasoline which will help reverse the price.
The time for bold action to save our environment and our pocketbooks is now! If we begin to remove our dependence on oil now, we will be better off. Oil prices are not going back down to $2.50 ever again.
We face a stark choice; join the energy revolution now, or let ourselves continue to backslide into third-world nation status.

Posted by lite

12:03 PM, Jul 23, 2008

If Sims wants an improvement within 15 months, a vote in 2010 (28 months away) doesn't really do the trick. By my math, a vote this November adds more buses, however few, within 15 months than would a vote in 2010.
If now is not a good time, when is it a good time??

Posted by Jeff B

12:05 PM, Jul 23, 2008

Citizens in Seattle and King County should be appreciative of our political leaders such as Greg Nickels and Ron Sims. When most voters complain about lack of leadership, we have two politicians who are willing to take on difficult issues and outline a long term vision.

While I agree with Ron Sims that more bus service is required, it is easier to add bus service than to commit to the infrastructure in light rail.

For those complaining about bus service, we should revisit the 40/40/20 rule self-imposed by Metro for new bus service. This rule mandates 40% of new service to be on the Eastside, 40% on South King County and 20% for Seattle City. This is why buses in the city are standing room only and why buses in the burbs run partially filled.

Posted by Zod

9:39 PM, Jul 23, 2008

FOUR TIMES light rail has been voted -- discounting the first, all have passed.

The first pass, they renovated a usable floor in a Bank of America building to "professional office" standards, to a tune of at least $250K , likely more.

And they bought buses.

We voted for a rail line.

Then they came back (ye of short memory, note), promoting essentially the SAME package, and won again.

Now again, we are faced with this agency, which is apparently NOT dealing with the best of companies as to price, wanting more.

Burlington Northern Sante Fe is on the above ground track, laying would likely be a winning bidder, but do you think they would choose them above another bidder? It's apparent to me that cost isn't an issue with them.

Note the first pass which failed was some 15 years ago, the second that passed was some 14. Three years ago they started actually laying track.

Contracting to a private company would have better results..

Posted by afreeman

10:00 AM, Jul 25, 2008

Faith-based decision making, the mark of the Nickels' administration, is now safe enough to do openly. Or is it? To grasp, compare Sims (no angel himself, heard most recently to exclaim: it's low VMT not high mpg--forget the existing web on the ground, rip it all up and redo it as walkable density connected by linear strings) to contemptuous Nickels.

Let's hope the readers and voters here are self-selective because it is scary.

Tying up more and more capital on an increasingly unknowable future fits right in with doing everything possible to make sure that only the well-off can live here. One unaddressed question is why the comparison of Seattle population gain over the last eight years to the net new housing units built in that period shows only 8/10 of a new person available to reside in one? This reflects vacancies and second home owners (who don't show up in the records used by the state in its annual estimates).

Second, third, & fourth home buyers are either already taxpayers (pay once no matter where they are except for property taxes) or live out of state with even less exposure. People will indeed have to be quite rich to have a residence here. And if its their only one, to subsidize homes for all the laborers who do the heavy lifting.

Posted by batgrrrl28

1:04 PM, Jul 25, 2008

No more waiting! The region needs a whole lot more light rail, express bus and commuter rail.

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