Light Rail: Campus to Airport!

Have you heard that light rail is coming to Seattle? I really look forward to it. The News Tribune has this little piece about Sound Transit:

Last Thursday, amid remarkably little fanfare, the Sound Transit Board approved a plan to build – with existing taxes – light rail from downtown Seattle to the University District.

That decision, which depends on $700 million in expected federal grant money, culminates one of the most dramatic turnarounds by any public agency in state history.

Just a few years back, Sound Transit’s light rail project in Seattle – the core of the mass transit system it was charged with building – was collapsing. After indulging in optimistic cost estimates and free spending, the agency had hit the hard concrete wall of reality.

The original plan was to build a 21-mile line from just north of the UW campus through downtown Seattle to just south of Sea-Tac Airport. By 2001, the agency had lowered its sights to just getting light rail from downtown to the airport.

What’s happened to Sound Transit since then qualifies as a resurrection. New board members set out to shake up the organization. Vigilant cost control and project management under a new executive director, Joni Earl, instilled an ethic of getting jobs done within budget.

As a result, Sound Transit now looks as if it can get light rail to the U District – though a stop short of its original destination on N.E. 45th Street – with the original tax package approved by the voters in 1996. It helped that the agency last summer had to abandon plans to create a costly and increasingly risky-looking station underneath Seattle’s First Hill. But better management and oversight is the chief reason a new terminus at Husky Stadium now looks feasible.

Outstanding!!!!! Hardly a week goes by these days without me breathlessly talking about how great it will be when I can head to Seatac from the U.W. campus via light rail. (And sometimes I talk about Nathan’s terrific Nurd Stations Map.) You see, I work on the UW campus. And, because of my job, I spend a lot of time driving to and from Seatac—for my own somewhat-frequent trips, to transporting visiting scholars, or to transport the other scholar in the household. In fact, just this morning, I dropped Kathy off at the Airport. I think it was 6:00 a.m.

You don’t have to just dream about this anymore…check out the Link Light Rail animations. Next on my personal light rail agenda…Light Rail to Redmond!

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One Response to “Light Rail: Campus to Airport!”

  1. K Says:

    But where are people going to park to use this fabulous light rail? Or is it only for UW people? Or do we take buses from our homes to the light rail, which as we know have LOTS of room for luggage? Is this part of comprehensive plan or an ad-hoc piece that will end up not really serving anyone terribly effectively? (BTW, thanks for the ride to and from the airport).

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