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And Somehow, the Zombie 6-Lane 520 Refuses to Die: My Mail to Senator Oemig

April 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Am I the only one in western WA who remembers that the RTID (not to mention R-51) failed? An email to my state Senator is below. As I understand it, they are going to vote on tolling so they can borrow (bond) for a project we can’t afford. It’s like taking out a credit card with a $10,000 limit in order to buy a Ferrari, in hopes it all just “works out.”

Let’s get real. We can’t afford a giant, gold-plated 520

Dear Senator Oemig:

I’m amazed. I thought this was behind us.

Two huge highway bills were put before the voters in recent years. Both R-51 and the RTID hoped to throw billions at a massive 520 expansion, yet even they didn’t fully fund a new 6-lane bridge. In both cases, it was hoped that tolling would help make up the shortfall. Both failed miserably with voters.

Since after the RTID death, it was clear we didn’t have anywhere near the money needed for a $4-6 Billion 520, I figured our legislators would force the DOT to sharpen their pencils and come to the only logical solution when faced with little money and the Montlake community’s objections to anything remotely intrusive:

• Immediately float in a new replacement span, and then when the budget permitted, rebuild the fragile hollow-core piles at both ends.

Inexpensive, phasable, and neighborhood friendly. Also obvious.

Yet here we are. The giant zombie 6-lane bridge survives. Even though we could toll 520 AND I-90 and still not have enough cash to fund the project.

I know how the camel’s nose in the tent strategy works. Look at how Sound Transit’s budget magically grew over the years. “Well, heck we can’t back out now, we just gotta find the money somewhere!”

I’m urging you to vote no on moving ahead with 520 in it’s current form, and force a major rethinking of the project.

Something I’ll bet you don’t know, and yet many of your constituents will care deeply about: If you live on the eastside and commute to Seattle, the planned 6-lane 520 makes your commute much longer than if they did nothing. DOT studies prove this. The only way to improve your commute times is if you are a bus rider (or carpooler). I have the data if you are interested.

I appreciate your consideration,

Steve Broback


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Cameron Newland // Apr 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I can’t say I agree with you–this is just such a complicated issue with so much drama attached to it.

    The only thing that is simple is necessity; specifically, the region’s requirement for an expanded bridge. If only we could all come together to solve this thing definitively, once and for all.

    Oddly enough, this is an issue where I think officials needs to shove a fix down our throat without a vote–the public wouldn’t ever approve the massive funding required if it were voted upon again.

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