City Hall, Sound transit, and Monorail

CITY HALL POLITICS

On Sept. 10, O. Casey Corr, communications director for Mayor Greg Nickels, is hosting a fund-raiser for Jean Godden, a candidate for Seattle City Council and former gossip columnist at The Seattle Times. Since Nickels has announced his intention to support council challengers and Godden is taking on one of the biggest thorns in the mayor's sidecouncil member Judy Nicastrois Corr's fund-raiser a first step in hizzoner's effort to boost Godden? Corr insists not. He and Godden worked together at the Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "I'm supporting Jean because I respect her brains and her character," he says. It seems inconceivable, however, given the political discipline of the Nickels inner circle, that Corr could remain a key player on the mayor's staff and at the same time work against Nickels' electoral interests. For her part, Godden says she has asked to meet with the mayor and hopes to receive his endorsement. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

SOUND TRANSIT

With the opening of the Tacoma Link light-rail line last week, Sound Transit demonstrated newfound ability for completing projects on time and under budget. The project was finished several weeks ahead of schedule and $900,000 short of the budgeted $88 million, although that figure was revised upward earlier from $50 million. But Sound Transit spokesperson Lee Somerstein is the first to point out that Sound Transit's accomplishments with the Tacoma Link hardly spell success for the Central Link in Seattle. The construction of the 1.6-mile Tacoma routepartly on streets, partly "grade-separated," and partly on exclusive right of wayfaced none of the construction complexities (a tunnel, water crossing, and several problematic right-of-way acquisitions) that plague the Seattle project. Tacoma Link has more in common with the tourist-friendly George Benson waterfront streetcar in Seattle than a cohesive mass-transit system. Ferrying people from a 2,500-space park-and-ride at the Tacoma Dome through downtown, past the University of Washington Tacoma campus and a future convention center and on to the theater district, Tacoma Link doesn't serve any residential neighborhoods. The Tacoma Dome station is one aspect of the line that can serve as model for the Central Link segment, though. At the park-and-ride, light rail is integrated with the Sounder heavy commuter rail line, with several express buses, and with Pierce County Transit, demonstrating how future integration with other transit systems at Seattle's Westlake bus-tunnel station might be handled. That's the planned northern terminus for the first stage of the Central Link rail line to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. NOAM REUVENI

MONORAIL

The Seattle Monorail Project released its draft environmental-impact statement (DEIS) last week. The 1,872-page document details almost everything that might be affected by the construction and is mostly good news: Traffic along the 14-mile Green Line corridor will decrease, air and water quality will improve, and numerous hazardous material sites stand to be cleaned up. But depending on which route the monorail project chooses, numerous businesses and up to 97 households would be displaced, with Lower Queen Anne and Belltown being hit particularly hard. In Belltown, if the monorail elects to run along the east side of Second Avenue, a 55-unit apartment building will have to be taken out. And in Lower Queen Anne, if the monorail runs through the Seattle Center grounds or along Mercer Street, a 29-unit apartment building will be lost. NOAM REUVENI

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