At a meeting of the Eastside Transportation Association yesterday, Republican gubernatorial candidate and current state attorney general Rob McKenna declared himself a “deep, deep skeptic” of the light rail line between Seattle and Bellevue and suggested that “the only way out” of the voter-approved plan would be another public vote.
As a Sound Transit board member, then-King County Council member McKenna repeatedly took votes against moving the project forward. For example, he consistently pushed the principle of subarea equity, which restricts spending in each of several geographical areas to funds raised in those areas.
However, since then, voters in Bellevue approved Sound Transit 2—the I-90 rail crossing—58-42 percent. On other issues, such as domestic partnerships and abortion, McKenna has said he supports the will of the voters or existing law.
At the group’s breakfast meeting, McKenna said, “You know that I supported an extra [general purpose] lane [on I-90], going at least as far as Montlake on 520. And we lost that fight. … And you know that I am a deep, deep skeptic of bringing light rail across I-90. I’m not even sure how it’s going to work, frankly. I don’t know how you can do fixed rail on a floating bridge. And I envision it shutting down temporarily when there is a wind.
“So I worry about that. And at the same time it’s been voter approved, and this legislature has created this—I think—significantly unaccountable regional transportation body called Sound Transit. And so I don’t know what the solution is. Evidently, the solution is not found in the courts. So the only way out I can see on that is having a public vote. … We’ve lost some key battles in terms of what should be done.
“I find it kind of sadly ironic that they’re putting in bus rapid transit right now. But of course, it’s underfunded because so much of the money has been soaked up by a couple of big projects that are mostly going to carry former bus riders. We all know where we are on that issue, but I don’t have an easy solution to how do you unravel it, because of the public vote, the fact that we’re moving forward with bonding … We may have to ride out the mistakes we’ve made but going forward we can avoid those mistakes
“We need to increase and enhance [road] capacity to accomodate greater flow, and going forward, we need to make efficient use of existing capacity.”
Randy Pepple, McKenna’s campaign spokesman, says McKenna is well aware he can’t do anything now to stop light rail. “There was no call to action. He was laying out the facts. … He said very clearly, and his position is very clear as well, that he is big on accountability.”
“It’s a statement of fact: The only way you can do this is a public vote. He said, ‘I don’t have an easy solution on how you unravel it.”
Audio available here.