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, May 22, 2009

Get ready to Travel Light

On July 18th, less than two months from now, the Regional Transit Authority - better known as Sound Transit - will inaugurate service on Central Link, its much awaited light rail line connecting Tukwila to downtown Seattle.

It's a day I've been looking forward to for a long time... ever since I became an activist, in fact. I got involved in politics back in 2002 to save Central Link from being destroyed by Tim Eyman, and although the project successfully broke ground way back on November 8th, 2003, I've always felt that victory would not be achieved until light rail opened to the people of this region.

Victory - complete victory over Tim Eyman - is now just a few weeks away.

Travel Light - The Journey Begins July 18th 2009

For five years, I've watched and tracked the progress of Central Link's construction. I've seen the Emerald Mole in action (and signed my name to it before it started digging the Beacon Hill tunnels), toured Sound Transit's new maintenance facility in South Downtown, inspected some of the new stations, and gone for a test ride with many of the elected leaders on the Sound Transit Board.

I've pointed out the new tracks soaring above Highway 518 when picking up guests at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, proudly telling them, "Soon we're going to have a fine rail transit system just like every other major American city."

Link light rail is going to be a great blessing to this region. There's nothing like the reliability and convenience of a train.

At peak commute times, a Central Link train will arrive at a station about every seven minutes. Riders won't have to worry about "missing" a train, because no matter when they show up at the station, there will always be a train just seconds or minutes away, to carry them north or south to their destination.

When Sound Transit broke ground back in 2003, it was hoped that light rail could be extended to SeaTac Airport by 2011.

Instead, the Port of Seattle and Sound Transit figured out how to get it done by the end of this year, so that shuttles will only have to run between Tukwila International Station and the airport for a few months.

Beginning in December, it will be possible to walk directly from the terminal to the Link station and get on a Westlake bound train.

It's hard not to be envious of those who live along the Central Link line - they're getting light rail in just a few weeks while those of us who would use North Link, East Link, and South Link if those lines existed today have to wait. But alas, that's the price we have paid for not building rail decades ago. Thank goodness we are not making that same mistake now.

The opening of Central Link will be a memorable event. If you're not able to make it for some reason, you can rest assured that you'll find live and comprehensive coverage of all the festivities right here on The NPI Advocate.


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