the streetscape of light rail opposition

Bellevue, Washington has been alive with debate about planned light rail alignments in and around its downtown this year, with Sound Transit, the regional transit agency, often at loggerheads with local elected officials about the preferred route to be selected for study and eventual implementation.

Last month, Sound Transit selected a segment adjacent to a close-in residential neighborhood for further evaluation in the project Environmental Impact Statement.

The situation remains a textbook application of the challenges which Paul Symington and I addressed in our recently republished report, “Urban Centers and Transit-Oriented Development in Washington“, (the “Barriers Report“), downloadable here. In keeping with our discussion of political, organizational and interagency implementation challenges, the Bellevue City Council and many residents oppose Sound Transit’s preferred alternative.

On the ground, opposition is clear from the landscape of signage, and from an imaginary train ride captured below–well over a decade before completion of Sound Transit’s East Link. Regardless of which alignment is chosen and constructed, consider rides with memories of where planning-era signage was located along the way!

10 thoughts on “the streetscape of light rail opposition

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  6. Bill B

    i think there are distinctions in opposition to transit solutions –

    1) some believe that light rail is not the most practical solution and refuse to support it
    2) others would prefer routes that do not disrupt their neighborhood (the MLK run through south Seattle bisected a community with 50 crossings along the boulevard to only 6 after the line went in)
    3) at times these changes represent pure urban renewal tactics (to increase “development potential”)

    until the downsides to communities and our dwindling capital funding are balanced with the solution – and perhaps it is a perception or engagement issue – there will continue to be opposition.

    in cases of wealthier and white communities, e.g. Ravenna, opposition can achieve what they want. in the case of poorer communities of color, as in South Seattle, they lose. And developers and wealthier commuters from the suburbs win.

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  9. Matthew Roberts

    Isn’t it right that only the southern part of Bellevue along the Link alignment is the only part of the city against it? Downtowners and other people who neighbor the alignment are quite pro-Link.

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