Would you vote for a new monorail if it meant tearing down the old one? A group of preservation advocates would like to make sure

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Would you vote for a new monorail if it meant tearing down the old one? A group of preservation advocates would like to make sure you don't have to make that choice. Two architects, Susan Boyle and Andy Phillips, have nominated the 1962 monorail for historic status with the city's Landmarks Board. If the lengthy application, which attests to the monorail's architectural and historical significance, is approved, it'll take another month or two before the board makes a final decision. Ed Brighton, a monorail supporter who also wants to preserve the old elevated train, says the old monorail has been unfairly maligned by monorail proponents. "It is unfortunate that in promoting a new monorail, some advocates have tried to portray the current one as some sort of old relic," Brighton says. The Elevated Transportation Company, meanwhile, has hedged its bets by budgeting for demolition of the old monorail, while leaving the exact route between downtown and Seattle Center flexible. . . .

The Seattle Housing Authority took a pass Monday on demands to roll back minimum rents in its Senior Housing Program, which were recently raised to $390 a month. The decision—officially a commitment to a three-month "review" of possible ways to pay for the program, which is supposed to operate without a subsidy—means those making less than $12,000 a year will remain ineligible for the program.

Low-income housing advocates accused the agency of holding a "dog and pony show" to create the impression that it was taking action on senior housing while leaving the policy itself unchanged. But Kathy Roseth, who directs SHA's housing service center, said the agency just needs time to consider all its options, including offering seniors slots in public housing or allocating money from the city's low-income housing levy to make up the shortfall. "The question for the city is, is this the best kind of housing to be funding with levy dollars?" Roseth said. . . .

Headline from the future: "Council member chains self to viaduct—'Fix it, don't fell it!' Licata says."

Nick Licata hasn't yet held up traffic in his quixotic quest to save the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct. But he isn't quite finished trying to convince the state Department of Transportation that the viaduct, contrary to the DOT's claims, can and should be fixed. Last month, the Seattle City Council member convened a closed-door meeting of engineers, elected officials, and DOT secretary Doug MacDonald to reopen the option of retrofitting the earthquake-damaged viaduct. Referendum 51, the statewide gas-tax measure, would only partially fund an underground replacement for the gawky elevated structure.

Licata was optimistic about the prospects for his long-shot proposal. "I think the door was opened to revisiting at least partial retrofitting for the viaduct," he said after the meeting. McDonald has said that the viaduct can't be retrofitted because the rotted wooden pilings it rests on would be snapped in two by a severe earthquake; Licata's cadre of California-based engineers believes it could. Whatever the city and DOT decide, they'd better do it soon: After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit in California, damaged roads were immediately closed to traffic. The viaduct, which lists 3 inches to the east, continues to carry 110,000 cars a day. "You're racing against time," says engineer Roy Imbsen of Imbsen & Associates.

Erica C. Barnett

ebarnett@seattleweekly.com

 
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