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Seattle Monorail Boondoggle

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It looks like the Seattle Monorail project may be about to be killed before being born..

Pressure on monorail grows

Although the monorail has enjoyed popular support in four citywide elections, political opposition has been building since last week, when officials announced a financing plan for the 14-mile Green Line between West Seattle and Crown Hill. The $2 billion monorail would carry an additional $9 billion in interest payments, with taxes collected until 2050 or beyond, officials said.

I haven't followed this too closely, but when you are paying 4x your construction cost in interest over 40 years, something isn't right. And this is only for the first stage of the monorail construction, I think at least 30 more miles of rails were planned for the entire project.

Seattle citizens are the ones who would pay for this through vehicle license fees. I suppose the bright spot is that the construction hasn't actually started yet..

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I have been reading about this. It sounds as if the plan is certainly going to be doomed because of the extreme expense. They should rethink doing it as light rail.

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I have been reading about this.  It sounds as if the plan is certainly going to be doomed because of the extreme expense.  They should rethink doing it as light rail.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

For various reasons (density and topography being the big two) light rail is extremely expensive in Seattle, too. The CentralLink Light Rail project which involves retrofitting a bus tunnel to support trains as well as buses is projected to cost 2.4 billion for 14 miles.

Is Seattle trying to build this monorail without any help from the FTA? For most transit projects, the feds pick up half the tab and the state picks up another large chunk, leaving a comparatively small amount for the municipality to cover.

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Monorail financing plan killed

Is Seattle trying to build this monorail without any help from the FTA? For most transit projects, the feds pick up half the tab and the state picks up another large chunk, leaving a comparatively small amount for the municipality to cover.

Correct. The 1.4% MVET is the only source of money for the project, although SMP is authorized to ask voters to go higher than that (up to 2.5%). Other options are a flat license fee of up to $100, a car rental tax and an excess property tax levy.

-- LB

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Why aren't they asking for any fed money? Were they denied?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I guess they decided to try to fund this project w/o getting help from the feds.

When the first monorail vote occured several years ago, the idea was to build this thing with private money. One thing that was mentioned during a campaign to kill the project (not directly, but would've prohibited the monorail from using public right-of-way) was that monorails weren't elgibile for federal money (which is not true).

On a sidenote, the feds denied funds for an expansion of the Las Vegas Monorail.

-- LB

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The Feds are not funding many systems of any type these days as the Republican controlled government is generally anti-transit. It's interesting to note the Las Vegas system was built with private money.

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I thought it was common knowledge that monorails aren't a viable mode of alternative transportation. Or is that just me?

They're always a novelty, but they're expensive and slow.

And $11 billion? Wouldn't a subway be cheaper?

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I thought it was common knowledge that monorails aren't a viable mode of alternative transportation. Or is that just me?

They're always a novelty, but they're expensive and slow.

And $11 billion? Wouldn't a subway be cheaper?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Public submarines to travel under all the water in Seattle, that's what we need. So sad, simply sad that any public transport would fail in Seattle right now. With all the views in Seattle, the monorail still works for me.

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I thought it was common knowledge that monorails aren't a viable mode of alternative transportation. Or is that just me?

They're always a novelty, but they're expensive and slow.

And $11 billion? Wouldn't a subway be cheaper?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I would invite you to have a look at the Shonan monorail in suburban Tokyo. It has been providing speedy and efficient service since 1971.

Shonan11.jpg

You can see the complete series of photos at monorail.org at this link.

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Unfortunately between the 1950s and early 1990s it seems Seattle had its head in the sand regarding mass transit - completely ignoring it and pretending the problem of congestion didn't exist. The congestion today is partially a product of this decades long neglect.

Here is a good article about the history of mass transit in the greater Seattle area:

http://www.historylink.org/essays/output.cfm?file_id=2667

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If this project does get killed off, it wouldn't be the first time a transportation project was approved by voters, but ended up never being built.

The Bay Freeway (one of several porposed freeways/expressways to run between I-5 and SR-99) was approved by voters in the early 60's, only to be killed off in another vote (ordered by a judge after it was ruled the project had been drastically altered from what voters approved) several years later.

The R.H. Thomson Expressway (which would've run between the proposed (but never built) Bothell Freeway and the I-405/SR 167 interchange) was approved by voters in 1960. It got held up by a lawsuit (which was dropped after the project was changed from a 8-lane freeway to a 6-lane parkway) and was eventually killed off by another vote in the late 60's-early 70's. A partially-built interchange with SR 520 was built when the Evergreen Point floating bridge was built, but consists of a bunch of dead-end ramps (2 ramps do connect with Lake Washington Boulevard).

-- LB

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It's dead; the voters have spoken. It was a poor plan from the start & never should have been approved. Maybe Seattle voters can come up with a sane plan to add on to the lightrail system they are building.

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Does this mean the original funding that was approved for the monorail will go away, or can they use it to build something less expensive like light rail?

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^ It's going away. It was going away anyway as Seattle residents were getting P.O. boxes in Shoreline, Burien, Bellvue, etc. & had their car registration sent to that address. It was a legal way to get around the monorail's silly financing that was designed as much to discourage cars as fund transit; looks like it accomplised neither. The anti-car crazies are partially to blame for the monorail's death too.

The monorail was:

- poorly designed (silly route)

- poorly financed

- poorly run

- criminally inept (think Enron; high salaries, lies, bad accounting, etc.)

The monorail project was such a disaster, it was hurting transportation projects across the board.

Now that it is dead, maybe people will unite behind expanding the LRT line underconstruction. As thing currently stand, the line still will not cover the state's most heavily used transit corridor; stupid Seattle.

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