Business, Transportation

How Sound Transit Could Build Promised Graham Street Station in Rainier Valley

Eric Scigliano/Crosscut:

Sound Transit, the three-county rail and express-bus agency, announced some bad news, good news last month: Arbitrators had ordered it to pay $66 million in the last round of lawsuits by contractors on the South Link light rail line construction through the Rainier Valley, who sued over contaminated soils, ill-drafted design documents, and other unplanned costs. But this still left $117 million in contingency funds for the $2.4 billion route from downtown to Sea-Tac unspent. Sound Transit has taken a page from its regional predecessor Metro (now part of King County government): Lowball ‘em upfront, then cushion your actual budget enough to come out smelling like a rose.

Sound Transit hasn’t yet decided how to allocate the leftover funds. They’re supposed to be spent in Seattle and North King County, the subarea whose taxpayers originally contributed them. That means they’ll probably go to the North Link extension to Northgate. But a more-focused sense of fairness would suggest looking first for unfilled needs and unfinished business in the Rainier Valley, whose merchants and residents suffered more disruption than those along other light rail routes will. (The others get discreet underground or overhead lines; the valley suffered years of construction chaos and hundreds of business closures and relocations while Martin Luther King Jr. Way was dug up and widened to accommodate a double rail line down its center.)

So I asked Julie Pham — chair of the MLK Way Business Association, transit rider, and managing editor of the twice-weekly Nguoi Viet Tai Bac (Northwest Vietnamese News)  — how she thought Sound Transit should spend its light-rail bonus bucks. “More help for businesses along the corridor,” she said. “They built a train to bring people down here, and people aren’t coming.” And more information — in more languages — on how to use the (for novices) cryptic and forbidding ticket system, with inspectors waiting to slap you with a $124 fine if you don’t punch your ticket or tap your ORCA card before boarding. More.

Photos/David Mullarkey Images

5 comments on “How Sound Transit Could Build Promised Graham Street Station in Rainier Valley

  1. I agree. but the tone of the article indicated that Sound Transit won’t build a Graham stop. A Sound Transit official sneered at the idea of a Graham stop being constructed for the “convenience” of the residents. Well, yes, convenience of the area residents is the general idea. The intersection at Graham and MLK lies three-fourths of a mile from the Othello station and a mile away from the Columbia City station. Can’t see a lot of people walking a mile or so to catch light rail. Meanwhile, one anticipates Sound Transit bending over backward for the residents and businesses located in Capitol Hill and the north end. We’re only the Rainier Valley.

  2. “But Portland’s TriMet has added at least two stations to its operating MAX lines (the last, in 2010, for just $3 million plus some underground conduit work)”

    Thats $30 million in Seattle.

    They expect you to take a bus and then pay again to take the light rail when the bus used to take you there in the first place.

  3. I’d like to see some of this money spent on interior retrofits to the lightrail cars themselves – I can’t tell you how sick I am of getting on a train where the aisles, bike stowage and even some seats are blocked by tourist luggage. We paid for the damned thing, waited forever for it to get built, and now can’t get a seat!

  4. I just wish some of the money could go to repairing and improving S. Cloverdale St. between Beacon Ave. and MLK. Only one side of the street has some crappy asphalted sidewalk, but the biggest problem of all was the damage done by dump trucks during the light rail construction. They left big ruts and potholes in what was a perfectly fine street. Then, about a year later, SDOT (I presume) tried to put a thin layer over the ruts and made the problem even worse. Now there are ruts AND lumps, especially near the SW corner of the intersection with MLK. This is an important thoroughfare in SE Seattle, and while I still have an issue with the way the traffic lanes are marked out, the current decrepit road condition is a direct result of light rail construction.

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