The monorail, as a concept, could be a great transportation achievement for this city: moving people quickly along congested routes without disturbing the lives and movement of the people below. The reality is that the Seattle Monorail Project has so badly miscalculated its income that it doesn't have enough money to do what it promised. With a 30-percent shortfall, they are rushing into the project cutting corners to meet a deadline that simply doesn't exist. The loser in all this could be you.
With the Monorail short on money, they have made many changes to cheapen the project. The two-rail system is being replaced by one rail in many places. Money that was intended to ease the impact on nearby residents and businesses isn't there. The contracts the Monorail has sent out to bidders are missing many of the promises they have been making all along.
To compensate for this, the city could be required to pay many of the costs not included in the Monorail contract. The city is already short of funds and will have cut $16 million in services this year. Making up for the Monorail shortfall will take even more away from other services, such as parks, roads, maybe even public-safety programs.
What could be left out of the monorail plan? Or what remains to be decided?
* With no new parking lots planned near the stations, where will all the people park when they come to ride the Monorail?
* Who will pay for needed new parking? Or, if neighborhood streets must have special zoning so that only residents can park there, who will pay for the parking permits?
* Who will pay for sewer and power-pole relocation?
* Who will pay for addressing neighborhood congestion and street repair due to the increased traffic around the stations?
* Who will pay for environmental cleanup during construction and landscaping and sidewalk repair afterward?
* How will Metro buses be rerouted to serve Monorail stations? Will bus service be taken away from other neighborhoods? Will bus riders have to pay higher fares if they want to transfer to the monorail?
These are costs the monorail should pay out of its $1.7-billion budget. They should not be shifted to the city, Metro or the neighborhoods.
Currently the Seattle City Council is beginning to discuss a right-of-way agreement with the Monorail. The Project needs that agreement before it proceeds. The city is able to require that all these questions be answered and that the Monorail Project pay for all project costs. They should do so. Let's do this right!
We encourage everyone to contact our City Council members to let them know we want to be sure the Monorail Project keeps its promises and pays all of the costs. They can be reached at 684-8888 or through www.cityofseattle.net/council.
Faye Garneau, Kent Kammerer and Eugene Wasserman are members of OnTrack, a group of citizens and businesspeople from across Seattle who are dedicated to ensuring that the Seattle Monorail Project delivers the transportation system that the voters of Seattle approved, in the manner and for the price that was presented to them. If you want more information about OnTrack, or want to join in this effort, phone 686-3830 or visit www.monorailontrack.org.