Photo courtesy of Sound Transit

Bellevue Reporter editorial on ST3 narrow-sighted | Mayor’s Memo

  • Friday, November 4, 2016 5:07pm
  • Opinion

The Bellevue Reporter’s assessment that Bellevue residents should not support Sound Transit Proposition 1 due to other issues “hanging in the balance that will affect Bellevue residents” is narrow-sighted.

It’s important to “protect home” by voting in favor of the Bellevue-focused measures on your ballot; but you can also be a good neighbor to our region by supporting Proposition 1. And let me be clear: Proposition 1 will not use funds designated for education.

The argument to “go back to the drawing board” isn’t needed when the region spent three-and-a-half years developing Sound Transit Proposition 1. It’s a comprehensive plan that 35,000 people from across the Puget Sound, including residents of the Eastside, gave input to create.

A resounding majority made the case for light rail to go more places, and to be built faster. Voter support of Proposition 1 this November will give the green light to complete the “spine” of the light rail system; add new bus rapid transit lines on I-405 and SR 522, and expand Sounder commuter rail service.

Proposition 1 will allow commuters to take light rail to Issaquah, Bellevue, Eastgate, and South Kirkland. The new line will connect Eastside residents to jobs at the region’s largest employers, including Google, Costco, and T-Mobile. It will connect students to schools, like the new station near Bellevue College. The plan overall also provides dependable public transportation to seniors and people with disabilities while also helping to reduce carbon emission and toxic run-off into the Sound.

This plan has been endorsed by the city of Bellevue and other Eastside cities like Redmond, Issaquah, Kenmore, and Woodinville. Businesses such as REI, Microsoft, Symetra, Costco, with its 5,000 employees headquartered in Issaquah, and Rowley Properties also in Issaquah, have also endorsed the plan, along with the Issaquah Downtown Association, Bellevue Downtown Association and OneRedmond. Contrary to opponents’ assertions about new technologies, Uber is endorsing Proposition 1 because it realizes that a complete transit system will complement its service.

With Proposition 1 we’re planning for future growth that requires a critical investment in our transportation infrastructure. Nearly one million more people will be living in the Puget Sound in the next couple of decades. On the Eastside, the Puget Sound Regional Council projects that the population in Issaquah will grow by 36 percent, Bellevue by 33 percent, and Kirkland by 27 percent between 2010 and 2040.

Demand for more transit is continuing to grow, and light rail will help more people avoid getting stuck in traffic. One light rail line can move up-to 16,000 people per hour in each direction, while one regular freeway lane can only move 2,000 cars.

Traffic gridlock will only get worse for commuters if we don’t make this investment.

Don’t repeat the past: Our region has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver a full-scale transportation system; the one we could have been using today if Forward Thrust, a similarly robust light rail measure, had been supported in 1968 and 1970. Today’s traffic congestion would have been significantly mitigated. This is our chance to get it done right now, for today and for the next generations to come.

Vote Yes on Sound Transit Proposition 1.

John Stokes is the mayor of Bellevue.

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