Monday, January 5, 2009

Rep. Zack Hudgins on plans to open the Tukwila-to-Seattle Light Rail

We asked State Representative and Tukwila resident Zack Hudgins for his thoughts on Sound Transit's plans to open its light-rail line between Seattle and Tukwila in July. Here's what he had to say:
After all the fights and hard work on light rail, it is very exciting to see a real target date for link light rail to be up and running – July 1, 2009. For years people in South Seattle, across Tukwila, and anyone driving to the airport saw the construction. Some residents of Beacon Hill and Tukwila could feel the heavy equipment in their neighborhoods and hear the workers early in the morning. I watched the pilings go up from my back yard. Then I watched the rails go in and recently I watched the trains being tested. It will really help our communities to have a quick, affordable, reliable, alternative to sitting in traffic.

But just as the station designs, and track path were contentious points of discussion, there are some concerns about the real impact on neighborhoods. For example, park and rides may fill up quickly with cars, so what happens to the overflow? Will residents be charged to park in their own neighborhood with new requirements for parking passes? Is the long elevator ride to the bottom of the Beacon Hill station and the tracks along Rainier avenue as safe as they are supposed to be and can be? What will the light rail do to development patterns along the route and will the train bring in more people and jobs to south Seattle? I am sure that Sound Transit will continue to work with the communities and neighborhoods affected by our leap forward in public transit.

I hope the communities and my neighbors ride the train into downtown – I know I can’t wait to avoid the parking headaches, and save the time in traffic as I head to Seattle.