Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, April 10, 2009

House restores funding for two way transit lanes on I-90; keeps East Link on track

Legislators in the State House have finally come to their senses.

After originally following the Senate in offering a transportation budget that didn't include funding for the two way transit and HOV improvements that are a prerequisite for Sound Transit’s East Link light rail line, the House today reversed course and put money back into the project.

A pair of amendments, one sponsored by Representative Judy Clibborn (D-41st District) and one sponsored by Geoff Simpson (D-47th District) appropriated $10.6 million for the project and struck language that would have imposed useless procedural hurdles to block progress.

We're relieved that these changes have been made, and thankful for the efforts by our friends at Seattle Transit Blog and Futurewise, who pushed Democrats in Olympia to respect the will of the people of Puget Sound. We also want to recognize King County Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine (who are both running for county executive) for raising this issue on the campaign trail.

Dow's campaign has just issued a news release commending the House's action, and praising the folks who made it happen:
I credit above all the grassroots advocacy of transit supporters and activists who contacted their legislators to demand that the voters’ decision to extend light rail to Mercer Island , Bellevue and Redmond be honored.
Agreed. Kudos to everyone who called or sent a message to their legislator.

We haven't received a statement from Larry Phillips' campaign about this, but if we do, I'll update this post with an excerpt.

UPDATE: From Phillips' statement:
The public came forward and told legislators to let East Link move forward, and legislators listened. Voters were loud and clear last fall in saying that they want to build more light rail. This is the time for the state and region to unite behind that vision and make it happen, so we can get commuters out of traffic and our economy back on track
We're hopeful that these changes mark a shift away from Olympia's traditional hostility towards Sound Transit. Our region desperately needs a strong rail backbone to foster mobility. For that backbone to be built, the State of Washington must honor the obligations and commitments it made years ago.

Olympia should be helping in any way it can to support the construction of the Link light rail system - not obstructing the system from getting off the ground.


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