PROP. 1: Building monorail won't solve our traffic problems

The Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) is asking Seattle voters to approve a 10-mile monorail running between Dravus in Interbay (next to the golf course and driving range) to Alaska Junction in West Seattle - cutting all of Ballard and part of West Seattle from the Green Line.

Monorail Proposition 1, if passed, will grant the SMP a blank check that could leave us with a revenue-sucking "monster rail" eating up our car-tab taxes, taking away funding for much needed street repairs and other vital traffic congestion improvements throughout the city.

After spending nearly $200 million and running up $110 million in debt in three years, the SMP cannot tell us how long the monorail will be, where it will run, how many people will ride it or how much it will cost to operate. We do know that it will never be self-supporting on operations (as promised in 2002). If the shortened Green Line ever opens, SMP will have to come back to Seattleites asking for another taxpayer subsidy.

The SMP needs a blank check because it can't afford to build the full, 14-mile line it promised (remember the $11-billion finance plan in June?), and it can't afford to build the reduced, 10-mile line it now proposes; this is because revenues are 30 percent lower and costs are 20 percent higher than estimated when the project was planned. As a result, the SMP had to cut costs by sacrificing service to all of Ballard and part of West Seattle.

Two neighborhoods, three miles of guideway and seven stations aren't the only things the monorail has eliminated to save money. All along the line, "design excellence" has been sacrificed and replaced with visual blight. The well-designed stations have been replaced with bare-bones, concrete, open-air structures with no character.

The columns will be larger - not smaller, as promised - than the columns for the existing monorail. (Vanished are the lovely images of delicate tulip floral shapes of concrete sprouting out of the sidewalks as promised). The guideway will become a "Wall of China" concrete barrier blocking our scenic views and cluttering up our streets, adding to the gritty eyesores of utility poles and wires sagging across streets and sidewalks.

For Magnolia, a 10-mile monorail from Dravus Street to West Seattle is of little use. We already have excellent bus service, and the SMP estimates that 82 percent of its riders would come from those people already using it. This is a false assumption. Why would a rider on a daily basis get on a bus that goes directly to their destination, and instead get off the bus at Interbay or Mercer to transfer to the monorail?

It's not likely. There are too many false assumptions in the monorail plan. We need to generate ways of getting more people out of their cars and on to the buses. Do monorail proponents ever notice how empty our buses are, rolling through our streets with empty seats and vacant windows?

SMP is asking the voters to take a gamble on a $5- to $6-billion bet. Pretty high stakes for a project that likely will not relieve traffic congestion. The SMP continues to collect $1 million a week in tax revenue, and all they have to show for it is a series of broken promises.

Bring it to an end. Vote 'No' on Monorail Proposition 1 so that we can invest our scarce dollars in real transportation solutions, as well as in our $500-million, delinquent backlog of much needed street and sidewalk repairs.

Shirlee Holmes is a Magnolia resident.[[In-content Ad]]