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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 20, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Light rail: Is Sound Transit wrong on parking and noise?

Light rail, failing promises made, is not quiet

Editor, The Times:

It seems there is some shared pain and empathy between those of us who are dealing with screeching light-rail noise and those who live near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s third runway.

What dismays many of us Rainier Valley residents is that during planning and public comment phases we expressed great concern about noise from an aboveground track. Our concern was met with assurances that this new technology would be quiet. Even so, many of us were still skeptical and continued to advocate strongly for having the rail underground because of noise concerns.

I hope Sound Transit can find a remedy to the screeching noise or realize that any future expansion of the system must be underground so others are spared from having their nervous systems constantly bombarded by metal-on-metal screeching.

— Susan Fairo, Seattle

With adequate parking, light rail would work

It seems a shame that, after all these years of trying to get a mass-transit system that would relieve traffic congestion, we get a light-rail system that will most likely increase traffic congestion.

I would be willing to bet that if there were parking garages near the light-rail stations that were half as expensive as downtown parking, downtown workers would ride the rail and reduce traffic congestion in the downtown area.

— Michael Ulmen, Seattle

Sound Transit parking plan made in fantasy land

Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan said, “Light rail was meant to be fed by people taking the bus, walking or biking. It was not meant to be fed by cars” [“Would-be rail riders bemoan lack of parking,” page one, July 16].

That is the problem with government. Its decisions are usually based on what should be (fantasy) and not on what is (reality).

— R. A. Virant, Bothell

Light-rail numbers just don’t add up

If we take the current ridership forecast for the light rail when it is completed from Sea-Tac Airport and opens to the University of Washington at 26,000 per day and has a final cost of $4.3 billion, as is now expected, and if we assume a growth in ridership at 3 percent per year for the next 30 years along with the present cost of money at 5.5 percent, the current return on tax free municipal bonds such as the recent Dallas-Fort Worth airport offering, then the cost per rider is $43.93. With a typical fare at $2.00 per rider it is hard to imagine a worst investment for the beleaguered taxpayer.

Just imagine what the per-rider cost would be if the separate right of way for the light rail had instead been designed and set aside for the exclusive use of buses, fire engines, ambulances and other emergency-response vehicles?

While many politicos are celebrating the opening of this fine engineering wonder, dare we ask why?

— Christopher V. Brown, Seattle

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