Despite its repeated vow of "transparency," the Seattle Monorail Project's mid-August bid opening and selection process will be done in secrecy until the winner is announced months later. SMP's take is that by shutting out taxpayers from the behind- the-scenes give-and-take, they'll somehow be better served. Secrecy aside, here's some of what has leaked out about the specific plans of Team Monorail, headed by Bombardier of Canada (the other bidder will be Cascadia Monorail, involving Hitachi of Japan). For starters, there's a surprising proposal by Team Monorail: a dual guideway structure throughout almost the entire 13.7-mile Green Line, including both water crossings. Because of a tax-revenue shortfall, SMP had planned to make four miles of the line single rail. Team Monorail plans a single beam section only from Northwest 65th Street to Northwest 85th Street in Ballard, and that would be expandable to two rails. Other plans by TM:
•State-of-the-art driverless monorail trains with open, walk-through capability and 360-degree views.
•Final assembly of the trains by Pacifica Marine in Seattle.
•An option for a station at Fifth Avenue and Stewart Street, at a renovated Times Square Building, with a direct link into the food court at Westlake Center.
•A dramatic "ribbon in the air" bridge design for the Ballard Ship Canal crossing.
•Smaller station designs that eliminate the need for iris-style columns, without additional property acquisitions, including a low-profile design for the station at Elliott Avenue West and West Mercer Street and a low-profile Second Avenue and Madison Street station that can be built before the Federal Reserve Building becomes available.
•Columns on Second Avenue that preserve vehicle lanes and the bike path and allow a 14-foot building clearance.
Tom Stone, Team Monorail bid director, wants to extend the bid deadline until the end of August (already pushed back from June), since SMP is still adding items to its wish list. But another delay is unlikely. Either way, Stone, in a letter to SMP, promises that his newly reorganized team now offers an "unprecedented level of financial strength, and unmatched design and construction experience." However, with a closed bid opening, we'll have to take his word for it. RICK ANDERSON
It used to be that journalism talent in Seattle flowed mostly in one direction—from the underresourced but scrappy Seattle Post-Intelligencer to the dominating Seattle Times. Just off the top of my head, in the 1980s and 1990s, the exodus included columnists Jean Godden (now a City Council member) and the late Emmett Watson; writers Dick Clever, O. Casey Corr (now an aide to Mayor Greg Nickels), Steve Miletich, Eric Nalder, Bruce Ramsey, Duff Wilson (recently departed for The New York Times), and Bud Withers; photographer Ellen Banner; and editors Mark Higgins and Mary Rothschild. But starting in the late 1990s, the flow of talent has been mostly the other way. P-I staffers who have worked at the Times include writers Rebekah Denn, Melanie McFarland, Kery Murakami, and Vanessa Ho; Editorial Page Editor Mark Trahant; and, most notably, City Editor Mark Matassa. Add to that list a jaw-dropper: investigative machine Nalder, who shared in two Pulitzers at the Times from 1983 to 2001. He's spent the past three years with the San Jose Mercury News, though he lives across Puget Sound in Suquamish. Politicians, bureaucrats, and business owners beware: Nalder returns to the P-I, where he made a mark from 1976 to 1983, next month. CHUCK TAYLOR