Kirkland Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold testified to the Sound Transit board on Thursday thanking them for incorporating Kirkland City Council's feedback in an update to the ST3 draft plan. The rail spur from Bellevue to Kirkland was a consolation prize of sorts for Kirkland proposed by boardmember Claudia Balducci as Kirkland gets little else from the proposed ST3. The Balducci spur, as some called it, followed Kirkland's failed arguments to Sound Transit for bus rapid transit service on the Cross Kirkland Corridor, "no transit is better than the wrong transit" argument and most recently, "light rail with flexibility".
The amendments proposed by the board on Thursday include building light rail from Bellevue to the South Kirkland and an expansion of north-south alternatives through Kirkland considered in the study for future transit.
This will be spun as a great "win" for Kirkland but don't be fooled by political rhetoric. Kirkland has fought hard for the past year and did not get what it wanted from Sound Transit. This last minute face-saving gesture from Sound Transit is peanuts and even many Sound Transit supporters admit it will provide scarce utility to Kirklanders.
This solution by Sound Transit is not what Kirkland wanted, nor is it what the opposition group, Save Our Trail wanted either. Kirkland City Hall wanted major investments in Kirkland as a part of ST3. Save Our Trail wanted to keep mass transit on I-405 rather than on the Cross Kirkland Corridor.
Politics is the art of what is doable, not designed to produce the ideal solution. The big question remaining is, will this gesture be enough to secure support for ST3 from Kirkland? We shall see in November.