Rooting for Routes

MONORAIL

So it isn't exactly a defection. Still, it's not every day that a monorail crusader announces that he's taking money from businesses that want to keep the monorail off their property. Dick Falkenbury, the onetime cabbie and permanent monorail mascot, has a new consulting firm, ClearMobility (yeah, we think it sounds like a cell phone company, too), with a grand total of two clientsthe Seattle Glassblowing School and Earthwise, a building materials companythat both want the monorail rerouted around their properties in Belltown and SoDo, respectively. "They've got five 90-degree turns in a half-mile" in the vicinity of Earthwise, Falkenbury notes. Although the twisty route was supposedly necessitated by conflicts with an existing railroad line and future expansion plans for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Falkenbury says "maybe it's time for them to calm down and take a look" at rerouting the monorail along a less circuitous pathand, incidentally, around his paying customers.

In other monorail news, the Landmarks Preservation Board was expected to vote on Wednesday to designate all or part of the 41-year-old downtown monorail as a historic landmark. But the World's Fair relic is probably doomed regardless, thanks to a process that allows mitigation in lieu of preservation and puts the monorail's ultimate fate in the hands of a mostly unsympathetic Seattle City Council. The monorail, as much an icon among Seattle landmarks as the Space Needle, sits directly in the path of the new monorail's planned route along Fifth Avenue. Last month, the landmarks board nominated the entire line for landmark statusbeams, columns, motors, and all. But many on the City Council, including preservationist Peter Steinbrueck, seemed unwilling to stymie one monorail to save another. "We've torn down much better examples of historic structures in this city in the past," Steinbrueck says. In other words, the monorail could be given landmark status and still turned into a museum exhibitor, in some nightmares, a Starbucks. Once the negotiating phase of the landmarks process is througha stage that, according to historic preservation supervisor Karen Gordon, will start sometime after November and take at least 75 days, probably longerthe Seattle City Council could decide the monorail's final fate.

POLITICS

Last week, Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Bellevue, announced she will stay in Washington's 8th Congressional District seat rather than take on Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, in 2004. The announcement touched off a frenzied game of political musical chairs, as all the Republicans who were lusting after Dunn's seat scurried to come up with Plan B. The King County Council's brainy compassionate conservative, Rob McKenna, R-Bellevue, says he'll take a hard look at running for state attorney general, but not until after winning re-election to his own council seat this November. The state Senate's budget whiz, Dino Rossi, R-Issaquah, says he is being urged by many to run for governor but will only admit to finding such talk "flattering."

And just when you thought the war in Iraq was over and the peace movement on life support, 3,000 anti-war protesters turned out to march through Capitol Hill last Saturday, a gathering far larger than organizers had expected, and one that Seattle police handled with kid gloves.

ebarnett@seattleweekly.com

 
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