Urban Politics #135: Monorail Legislation Passes

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.


Monorail Legislation Passes

The Monorail Ad-Hoc Committee I chair passed two monorail resolutions (4-0; Licata, Conlin, Nicastro, Wills) on Friday, June 28, 2002. Both will now move to the Full Council for votes on Monday, July 8.

Resolution 30486 – City’s Commitments

The first resolution (30486) states the intent of the City of Seattle to commit to assisting the development of a monorail system, and to reach an agreements reflecting this intent, if the monorail approved by the voters.

The key elements are:

– Use of the West Seattle Bridge for a monorail, assuming successful design: the West Seattle bridge can be used (and no traffic lanes will be lost)

– Expedited review and approvals for permits, and coordination with private developments integrated with monorail development (some stations will likely be built in private developments)

– Coordination of utility work (although the City assumes a new monorail authority will pay; the monorail plan budget assumes this as well)

– Transfer of existing monorail system to a new monorail authority

– A bridge loan of $20 million to facilitate rapid start-up and implementation

The resolution is designed to meet the intent of Initiative 53, passed by voters in November 2000. I-53 required the City to reserve $200 million for monorail purposes; the resolution meets that intent through other commitments.

The resolution was developed with the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC). I am co-sponsoring the resolution along with Councilmembers Nicastro, Conlin and Wills. The resolution incorporates the bridge loan provision from legislation previously proposed by Nicastro.

A formal agreement would still need to be carried out by the City and a future Seattle Popular Transit Authority, which would be created by the ballot measure to construct and operate a monorail system.

The Council earlier passed a resolution for the use of City right-of-way, which is also mentioned in this resolution.

Resolution 30485 – Design Guidelines For Monorail

The second resolution (30485) states a series of principles the City urges a future Seattle Popular Transit Agency to implement in building a monorail. Key elements include

– Integrating the monorail into the City’s transportation system

– To maximize pedestrian and cyclist access

– A consistent system-wide identity that creates a visual icon for the region

– Minimize visual impact and maximize benefits to neighborhoods

– A 1% for the arts provision

The resolution was developed with the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC), and the City of Seattle Design and Planning Commissions.

Public Hearing On The Monorail’S Plans

A joint Public Hearing of the Seattle City Council Monorail Ad-Hoc Committee and the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) Board of Directors on the latest draft (2) of the Seattle Popular Transit Plan will be held on Tuesday, July 2, 2002 from 5-9 p.m. in the Northwest Rooms (Olympic) of the Seattle Center, just north of Key Arena at 1st & Republican.

Draft 2 of the Seattle Popular Transit Plan, developed by the Elevated Transportation Company, proposes a 14-mile “Green Line” route from Ballard through Downtown to West Seattle along the following lines:

Ballard: on 15th Avenue NW from NW 85th to the Lake Washington Ship Canal

Interbay: on 15th Avenue West/Elliot Avenue West, to West Harrison Street at Key Arena, then on Mercer to 5th Avenue

Downtown: 5th Avenue, turning on Stewart Street to 2nd Avenue, continuing to south downtown

SODO: From Third Avenue to South Lander, West on South Lander, to First Avenue South

West Seattle: From the West Seattle Bridge to SW Avalon, to Fauntleroy SW to SW Alaska to 42nd, then on California to SW Morgan

To finance the estimated cost of $1.255 billion “green line”, Draft 2 proposes a 1.4% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET). In addition, a citywide plan proposing possible future monorail corridors is proposed. Draft 1 of the Seattle Popular Transit Plan was released in April, 2002.

The Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) Board plans to vote August 5 on a final Seattle Popular Transit Plan and ballot measure for a monorail in Seattle.

Draft 2 of the Seattle Popular Transit Plan can be viewed at the website of the Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) at: http://www.elevated.org/project/draft_sptp.shtm , or by contacting the ETC at (206) 382-1220.

Initiative 53 was passed by Seattle voters in November 2000 “to cause a monorail system to be built to serve a wide area of the city of Seattle by: providing specific funding in the form of bonds rather than any new taxes”. It set aside $6 million in City funds to prepare a plan and ballot measure for a monorail system. Initiative 53 affirmed the intent of Initiative 41, passed by Seattle voters in November 1997.

For additional information, contact Newell Aldrich from Councilmember Licata’s office at 206-386-9011 or newell.aldrich@seattle.gov .

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