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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

November 4, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Seattle’s Latest monorail proposal loses big

Seattleites overwhelmingly rejected a request to spend $2 million per year for yet another layer of transportation planning, this time to explore a monorail line.

Citizen Proposition No. 1 attracted only 19.6 percent of the votes in counts released Tuesday night.

Its defeat reinforces a voter decision nine years ago to bury the dream of a line from West Seattle to Ballard, when car-tab taxes generated too little money to keep the project alive.

This time, rather than a movement, the idea of a monorail extension was steered largely by one activist, Elizabeth Campbell of Magnolia, who campaigned virtually alone.

Campbell, joined by Bellevue transportation engineer William Popp and a few supporters, proposed to collect a $5 annual car-tab fee for a Century Transportation Authority (CenTran) to plan the monorail.

CenTran tiptoed onto the ballot by gathering more than 9,300 petition signatures, doubling the legal requirement of 4,582 — a mere 1 percent of city voters — to qualify. The campaign raised less than $5,000, mostly from Campbell, and did virtually no advertising.

Campbell said she “looks forward to being a part of the continuing dialogue in Seattle” about transportation priorities.

“This election cycle has also provided an opportunity for the people of Seattle to clearly and publicly acknowledge that there is a transportation crisis in Seattle,” she said in a statement Tuesday night.

A longtime irritant to governing officials, Campbell previously ran petition drives against the Highway 99 tunnel and pried loose thousands of pages of records from the state Department of Transportation. This year she joined the steering committee of Park My Viaduct, a group seeking to preserve the old Alaskan Way Viaduct for recreation.

Monorail measures have a record of four wins, two losses since 1997, and the only line running is the one-mile Seattle Center Monorail, built in 1962.

Opponents argued CenTran would have added a wasteful planning effort to the stew of transportation agencies and groups here.

“There is a lot of support for Sound Transit and light rail. The last thing we need around here is another transit agency. It’s crazy,” said former City Councilmember Jan Drago, who co-wrote an opposition statement for the voters guide.

Tonight’s vote count can be viewed here.

Related:

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: Elizabeth Campbell, Monorail, seattle

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