The following is the text of the testimony that was presented by Eastside Rail Now! regarding ST2 at the Sound Transit Board meeting on April 26, 2007:
We appreciate the tremendous amount of work that you and your staff have already performed with respect to ST2. And we particularly appreciate the recent amendment proposal regarding the Eastside railroad. This is an important step forward.
Regarding the two ballot measures as a whole, we suggest that consideration be given to further refinement before submission to the voters. As they currently stand, they would saddle our region with higher taxes and indebtedness for decades. They would also reduce our flexibility to take on important new projects in the coming years.
Fortunately, many billions could be cut from the proposed expenditures by initially focusing on those projects which have the greatest potential for improving mobility and protecting the environment while minimizing cost. That is, only those projects with the highest benefit to cost ratios should be selected. These include the light rail extension to Northgate, extensions to the Tacoma light rail line, and a starter line in Everett.
The project with one of the highest benefit to cost ratios is launching a transit service on the Eastside railroad. Indeed, this should be the centerpiece of mobility plans on the Eastside. Utilizing this exceptional opportunity would allow providing a high quality transit service all up and down the Eastside at a tiny fraction of the cost of East Link light rail. There would also be far less environmental disruption, and trains could be running in less than two years -- instead of two decades.
Such a service would provide an excellent alternative to continuing to pump billions into the widening of I-405 with little or no reduction in congestion and steadily deteriorating air quality. This is just one example of the massive and destructive road projects in RTID that will do little to improve mobility, and which completely ignore sprawl and climate change issues.
Priority should also be given to constructing a simplified version of the proposed East link segment from downtown Bellevue to downtown Redmond. By building it initially as a single-track, non-electrified branch of the existing railroad, it could be in operation in just a few years rather than some vague date after 2027 -- and at substantially lower cost.
It would then be easy to convert that segment to light rail in the future when the rest of East Link is built. In the meantime, there is much that could be done to improve bus service between Bellevue and Seattle at a relatively low cost.
Thank you again for your tireless efforts.
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This page created April 26, 2007.
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