UPDATE 9/26/05:Pretty good blow-by-blow coverage of the monorail’s unraveling in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Saturday.
We’re not dead yet, proclaims the monorail board.
Just minutes ago, the board unanimously agreed to send the monorail back to the voters this November. This is apparently a last ditch effort to resuscitate the project in the face of stern opposition from the mayor and city council. The new plan may actually be financially viable because it will truncate the full Green Line route: the line would now run from the West Seattle Junction to downtown to Dravus Street in Interbay (between Magnolia and Queen Anne), a rather obvious solution that I’ve suggested before. (This slightly shortens the West Seattle route and lops off Ballard with the expensive bridge across the ship canal.)
What the heck is going on?
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To my list of criticisms of the monorail board, let me now add: politically clueless and frenetic. It didn’t exactly take a rocket scientist (or even a monorail planner) to see that city officials were serious about holding the project accountable to a financing plan that could pass a straight-face test. Why the monorail waited until the 13th hour to offer voters a new plan is utterly beyond me.
There is one possible silver lining, however. A shortened monorail line could conceivably be affordable. And the shortened line would still bridge the critical link between West Seattle and downtown. That could help replace lost capacity in the Alaska Way Viaduct, which is looking ever more likely to come down and be replaced by, well, nothing.
Perhaps instead of funneling billions into substitute road capacity, the city-county-state-feds should consider funding the monorail. If government chips in some money, they could—and should—attach some meaningful strings: namely, better leadership and public oversight. But I suppose I’m just being Pollyanna.