A few weeks back, I happened to be in LA on a Tuesday evening. Rather than watch TV, I chose to log into the new “MUST SEE TV” reality series known as the Kirkland city council meeting. Now I don’t envy council and in fact respect that they have a tough job at trying to keep big business, developers and lastly, the community at mind when presiding over city affairs. This particular council meeting was full of everything that one could find on today’s TV. You had the villains, known as Sound Transit (at least it appears much of council fells this way) against the Super Hero forces of the Kirkland city council, who’s job is to supposedly save a terrified city in the midst of some sort of mass transit peril. It was suspense, drama, a case of whodunit and how could this be happening to us. It all morphed into a new genre….political comedy!
Council appears to be desperate. First demanding, then trying to solicit a compromise and now once more trying again to convince the Sound Transit board that the City of Kirkland is being ripped off. If my mind serves me correctly, this was the same council who said that light rail is bad for the Cross Kirkland Corridor (that we can agree). In a March 15th draft memorandum to Sound Transit, the city stated: “the wrong transit is worse than no transit on the CKC at this time. If light rail on the Cross Kirkland Corridor is included in the ST 3 package, Kirkland would have to oppose the ballot measure”. They also stated in the same memorandum that “ light rail on the CKC would be one of the highest cost-per-rider investments in the entire system, would irreparably harm the CKC and would make it nearly impossible to realize the CKC Master Plan vision created by our residents and adopted by the City Council. For these reasons, Kirkland cannot accept light rail on the CKC“. I appreciate the fact that this statement speaks to the “vision created by our residents” and that deep down, council understands the devastating impact that light rail would have for the CKC and the Kirkland community.
So now, our leaders have reversed course say that they support “light rail with flexibility”. What??? Regional transit connections belong on the regional north/south corridor, I-405. I support bus rapid transit, where it will do the most good and provide the highest flexibility in transporting the highest number of people as a regional transportation system should. Further development of TOD’s and as well as park and ride facilities are the way to go to help with BRT expansion.
There are many reasons why transit on the CKC is a bad deal for Kirkland and the region, ranging from high cost to significant environmental concerns to lack of demand. Keep transit where it belongs and invest Kirkland’s share of ST dollars in the 405 corridor.