November 13, 2007
Eastside Rail Now! has completed its long awaited review of the Puget Sound Regional Council's BNSF Corridor Preservation Study.
The PSRC study is impressive at first glance, with its massive size, abundance of high quality photographs and drawings, frequent use of trendy buzzwords and endorsements from numerous local political and business leaders -- as well as its $800,000 cost. This is likely a major reason that few people appear to have read it carefully, must less to have questioned it.
Eastside Rail Now! found the PSRC study to be severely flawed. In fact, it contains not just one, but several major defects, each of which is so serious that it alone would render the report unsuitable for making rational policy decisions about the future of the Eastside railroad and its generous right of way. Among these defects are the failure to employ any recognized transportation infrastructure decision making methodology, inadequate evaluation of the major potential uses for the railroad, fiscal irresponsibility and the appearance of conflict of interest.
For example, the study virtually completely ignores the railroad's most important potential use, which is as the core of a regional commuter rail system. Its authors brush this off by claiming that the railroad is poorly located, and they conveniently neglect to mention that it parallels the most congested freeway in the entire Northwest and runs through or near most major destinations on the Eastside. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a more suitable route for rail transit on the Eastside, except possibly something constructed at a cost of many billions of dollars.
Another example of the extremely sloppy work of the PSRC study is that it completely overlooks the most important environmental issues. Likewise, it neglects to give serious consideration to the potential economic benefits of the railroad as well as to its role in regional security.
The PSRC study is so seriously and consistently flawed and lacking in objectivity, despite the fact that many obviously talented and dedicated people worked on it, that it almost appears that it was designed that way intentionally.
It is disappointing when so much money and effort is devoted to a project such as the PSRC study which is basically just a big "snow job." But far worse than this waste of $800,000 is the fact that this severely defective and highly biased report is being used to facilitate a policy that will likely have severe consequences for both the Eastside and the region as a whole for decades to come, including an unnecessary cost to the region of many hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars.
Eastside Rail Now! wishes to thank those individuals who provided assistance and/or encouragement for this review (including several PSRC people).
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