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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bellevue Downtown Association endorses regional Roads & Transit package

The Bellevue Downtown Association, which Eastside developer and light rail opponent Kemper Freeman Jr. is a major force in, today endorsed the regional Roads & Transit package (consisting of Sound Transit 2 and RTID) that is going before voters this November. The endorsement is a major embarrassment for Freeman, who would prefer for his hatred of transit to not appear isolated.

Kemper's outfit has actually created videos in the past denouncing public transportation and praising the automobile. In 2002, he donated money to I-776, which sponsor Tim Eyman claimed would shut down Sound Transit's light rail project and repeal Sound Transit revenues.

(The initiative passed narrowly statewide, but lost big in King County. It ultimately failed to prevent the project from moving forward. Central Link is now under construction, due to open in 2009.)

Here's an excerpt from the organization's release:
Citing the pressing need to make substantial long-term investments in the region’s transportation system, the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA) Board of Directors today voted with an approximate 80 percent majority to support the Roads & Transit package as it moves toward a regional vote in November.

“The Roads & Transit plan offers a multi-modal approach to addressing decades of underinvestment in mobility solutions for our workforce, residents and visitors,” said Warren Koons, 2007 BDA Chair and partner with law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. “It provides a set of critical road infrastructure improvements and will connect Bellevue to Seattle and points east by light rail in support of the vision we share for a strong, viable, livable and accessible Downtown Bellevue.”
Why Kemper despises light rail and the East Link project is somewhat puzzling, given that it will help bring people to his "Bellevue Collection" of malls - Bellevue Square, Lincoln Square, and Bellevue Place. Then again, ideological right wing zealots are not known for their common sense or reasoning skills.

If you (foolishly and stupidly) believe public transportation is only for socialists, and you hate socialism with a passion, then you'll oppose light rail even if it's in your self interest to support light rail.

Finally, a clarification: the Bellevue Downtown Association is not the city's chamber of commerce. A post on The Stranger's SLOG announcing this news earlier today mistakenly reported that the endorsement came from the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. They have not yet endorsed the plan but will discuss doing so soon.

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