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Orrico's message on wrong track
I was recently dismayed to receive Vicki Orrico’s sleazy flyer attacking Conrad Lee, her opponent for City Council, Position 2. But the sleaziness was less disturbing than the message: Ms. Orrico promises aggressive leadership in mindlessly orchestrating an uncritical, lemming-like leap to Light Rail for Bellevue.
Light rail leaves a sad history across the American landscape. The city of Milwaukee, made a serious study of these issues over a decade ago, [Reference: “Light Rail in Milwaukee”, Wisconsin Policy Institute Rpt, V11, #3, March 1998 ]. In the summary, their report paints “a picture of LR NOT fulfilling its promises of: i) reducing congestion and pollution, and ii) switching riders to public transportation.” The reasons: i) Multiple light rail lines built in the U.S. over the past 2-3 decades have provided virtually NO REDUCTION of traffic congestion and, consequently, NO REDUCTION in air pollution; ii) The percent of commuters using transit has DECLINED in all major metropolitan areas, including those with LR; iii) As residences and jobs have spread to the suburbs, citizens rightly perceive that much of their travel can ONLY be practically accomplished by auto; iv) Even the most cost-effective LR systems require annual taxpayer subsidies (ie, beyond user fare revenues) of $5,000 and more per new rider — enough to fund leasing each his own auto.
Despite these facts, some theorists envision a new American urbanism in which automobile use is displaced by transit, with citizens re-deploying to dense urban areas developed around rail transit stations. Stated simply, this philosophy strives to drive Bellevue-ites out of our lovely neighborhoods and into high rise units.
So, fellow Bellevue-ites, if this is the future you’d like to see, then YES - - you should vote for Ms. Orrico’s uncritical advocacy. But if you agree that Bellevue is worth preserving and expanding - then I urge you to dismiss her “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach. Rather, fellow Bellevue-ites, cast your vote for the more experienced judgment of the present incumbent.
Mark Sussman, Bellevue