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Twenty-Six Officials ask Senator Murray To Shift Light Rail Funds to Other Transit Projects

For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 31, 2002

Contacts:
Guy Spencer, Councilmember Normandy Park 206 246-1883
Rob McKenna, King County Councilmember 206 296-1006

See Also:
Copy of Letter to Sen. Patty Murray

[Seattle] -- In an unusual and bold action, twenty-six council members and mayors from around the Metropolitan Area have written urging U.S. Senator Patty Murray to step back from pursuing federal funding for Sound Transit's controversial light rail project, and to use her influence to shift those funds to truly effective transit service and projects. Many of those signing serve on local and regional transportation committees.

These elected officials are adding their voices to the majority on the Tukwila City Council who expressed their dissatisfaction with the plan through a Council action because it would bypass their urban center. The City of Renton also recently publicly expressed frustration with the return on investment to Renton taxpayers.

"This group of local officials have decided to reach across political and geographic boundaries to call for more responsible transportation spending," said Bothell City Council member Tim Olsen. "We're finding that a lot of our colleagues on city and county councils are tired of the misrepresentations, waste, and ineffectiveness of Sound transit's light rail project. We hope we can encourage other community leaders to speak up on behalf of the taxpayers and better investments in transit," He added.

Council member Guy Spencer of Normandy Park remarked, "Local jurisdictions are often put under pressure to support Sound Transit, so there is reluctance to question the project."

"The public and the elected officials are starting to fully understand how little the light rail project would accomplish," according to Council Member Carolyn Armanini, "Sound Transit, with its $9.6 million annual marketing budget, has been telling our congressional representatives that there is broad support for the project. That's not what we're hearing, so we're speaking up."

"We have major transit and transportation needs and funding is tight, so we must make the best possible use of the public's money, said Rob McKenna, King County Council member and former Sound Transit Board member, who was not reappointed to the Board by King County Executive Ron Sims after he called attention to the light rail project's cost overruns and inefficiency.

In 1996 voters were promised that Sound Transit used very conservative cost and bond estimates for its plan to complete twenty-one miles of light rail in ten years. Now it's estimated to take three years longer and to cost almost 60% more to build only fourteen miles, ending two miles short of the Airport. Sound Transit has produced no route, estimates, or financial plan for the more difficult and critical seven miles of light rail from Downtown Seattle to the University District.

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