Seattle voters have have had conflicted feelings when it comes to public transportation. Here's a brief look at the highs and lows of the monorail.
Since 1911, Seattle voters have have had conflicted feelings when it comes to public transportation. Here’s a brief look at the highs and lows of the monorail:
1911:Famed engineer Virgil Bogue includes a lattice of elevated train lines mixed with subways in a proposed transportation plan; voters recoil at the costs.
1962: A 1.2-mile elevated line from Seattle Center to downtown opens March 24, just before the World’s Fair. An engineering team researches an extension to Shoreline, and Gov. Al Rosellini ponders building it to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but neither happens.
1994: Dick Falkenbury, a Seattle tour-bus driver, draws an X-shaped monorail map and begins gathering petition signatures in a grass-roots movement to build a longer system.
1997: City voters approve pro-monorail Initiative 41 despite opposition from nearly the entire political establishment. Backers claim private companies would pay for part or all of the system. Three years later, voters approve a second measure, to spend $6 million on monorail planning.
2002: Final counts give an 877-vote victory margin to Citizen Proposition No. 1, which includes a new car-tab tax to fund the 14-mile Green Line through the western half of the city.
March 29, 2004:Monorail board approves route along 15th Avenue Northwest in Ballard, through Seattle Center and along Second Avenue downtown and California Avenue Southwest in West Seattle. Support columns would be up to 6 feet wide, instead of the 3 feet proposed in the 2002 campaign.
Aug. 16, 2004:One contractor team, Cascadia Monorail, bids on the project. The initial bid is far over budget.
Nov. 2, 2004: Seattle voters resoundingly back monorail as 64 percent reject Initiative 83, which would have banned or revoked city permits required to build the project.
March 31, 2005: Washington Group International, part of the Cascadia team, drops out, saying the project is too financially risky. Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) and contractor Fluor conceal the bad news for nearly a month. Agency enters final negotiations, with Fluor in charge of the team.
June 2005: SMP releases details of the proposed contract with Cascadia. Three stations have been cut or deferred at Elliott Avenue West, West Seattle Stadium, and Madison Street downtown. And several trains have been trimmed, reducing the frequency of train service to every 8 minutes on opening day. The $1.615 billion contract price, combined with agency expenses, real estate, beautification funds, and other costs, puts the entire project over $2.1 billion. It also requires $500 million in liability insurance from the contractors to prove they can finish the work.
June 3, 2005:SMP announces a tentative $1.6 billion contract with Cascadia, which is led by Fluor Enterprises and train supplier Hitachi of Japan.
July 4, 2005: SMP board Chairman Tom Weeks and Executive Director Joel Horn resign after a public uproar over the 50-year finance plan they had championed.
July 10, 2005: Seattle Times poll finds that 52 percent of voters want the project scrapped.
Aug. 10, 2005: Mayor Greg Nickels gives SMP a Sept. 15 deadline to propose a ballot measure to pay for its financially distressed train line.
Sept. 16, 2005: At a news conference, Nickels cancels monorail construction permits, and calls for a Nov. 8 ballot measure to gauge public support.