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Light rail represents ‘loss for Island’
In your article on the Sound Transit Light Rail Workshop, I was delighted to see that you quoted the most important thing I said, which was, “The East Link light rail will be a net loss for Mercer Island.” I believe this is true because Mercer Island, its City Council and most of King County have slept-walked through the design stage of the project.
We approve of a light rail in principle, and we have voted for it. Everyone would like to see a light rail network in King County similar to the ones we enjoy when we visit the great cities of North America and Europe. The problem is that King County and Mercer Island residents don’t use public transit and therefore don’t really know whether the East Link light rail plan works or not. My position as a Mercer Islander who rides the bus to work every day is that light rail doesn’t work for Mercer Island or for King County.
The two suggestions to make the light rail a net gain for Mercer Island, which I presented to Sound Transit, were: 1) put the light rail on the new 520 floating bridge (supported by the mayor of Seattle), and if that’s not possible; 2) instead of just one stop, put two additional light rail stops on Mercer Island at East and West Mercer Way. Until we get one of these two options, Mercer Island and its City Council should fight the project tooth and nail. We are losing too much to end up with worse, crowded Mercer Island streets, an overloaded park and ride, and one overloaded light rail station.
If you agree with what I say or even wonder if it’s true, then I hope you will call our City Council and ask them to get interested in the East Link light rail project. Ask them to start being advocates for Mercer Island in this project because up to this point, no one has really defended us from this project or lobbied for our future in the project. You could suggest to our City Council that they create a Mercer Island public transit committee that would identify and present the Island’s interests in public transit. An incredible amount of money is being spent on this project for us to end up with less. The reason is because we have no one to represent Mercer Island’s interests in public transit.
W. C. Powell