I'm all for light rail, but please not on the I-90 bridge.
We need, and are in the process of (maybe) building a new SR-520 bridge. Design and build that one for Light Rail from day one, put the trains there, and we will also get great access to the new UW Station.
Sure, there are major issues that needs to be ironed out, but so are there with the current alignment (just follow the never ending debate in Bellevue) as well.
Projects like these (transit, highways, bridges) are MAJOR infrastructure projects that are needed to support our region (and we are not even talking about needed maintenance on old and crumbling infrastructure) and they should be paid by taxes. Yes, I do support a higher tax for all and everyone to ensure that we have "what is needed" to support the basic infrastructure in our ever more complex society.
That said, current and past projects have been debated forever, ran over budget and been generally mismanaged. All resulting in a situation where no one (or rather few) now are willing to pay taxes because the majority feel that they don't get their money's worth.
Me thinks that better management, less overhead, quicker decisions (yes, with the risk of railroading some groups or property owners), would lead to at least a slim chance for these projects to actually be built so we (who paid for them), also can enjoy them in our life time.
I was raised and lived in Europe for some 30 years. Apart from the Interstate System, I think unfortunately that we are so far behind when it comes to major public projects that it is just sad. We debate and bicker, but NEVER get anywhere (except burning hundreds of millions of $$$$ in the process).
A very recent example (simplified) of two project that size-wise and capacity wise are very similar: Waterfront tunnel: in Seattle: ~$4B give or take Waterfront tunnel in Gothenburg, Sweden: ~$600M (note that Sweden is a country with very high labor cost, and even if their calculations are off by a factor two, the Seattle Tunnel is at least still 3 times as pricey).
Norway started to dig all of their major thoroughfares under the city and the harbor some decades ago. Those projects totally transformed the city, and most of those projects (financed via tolls...) are getting close to be paid off. I think one in Trondheim (Norway) actually recently has turned "free" as tolls have paid all the project debt off sooner than expected.
So, we can debate public projects forever, but what we need are visionary public leaders that can look far ahead, good Engineers with a worldwide perspective to learn from the "best of breeds" and deploy those practices here. Then we need even better Project Managers to keep projects on track and with a tight grip of the purse, and finally a public that is truly willing to pay for these project.
If the public is not willing to pay for these projects, should we even pursue them? Probably not, but we should then also be ready to accept the trailing consequences - unless we also shut off the region and in order to not allow any more people or businesses to relocate here.
[box style="rounded" border="full"]This letter was originally posted as a comment in the article, I-90 Bridge Lawsuit Claims Light Rail “Not A Highway Purpose”. The author has agreed to posting this as a letter to the editor.[/box]