Still the Best High-Speed Mass Transit from West Seattle and Ballard
by Bob Fleming
About the Seattle Center Monorail
Seattle Center Monorail web site
Advantages of monorail
My opinions about Seattle area monorail
Former Seattle Monorail Project
A Proposed Regional Monorail System
Arguments against monorail and my responses
My ideas for monorail system design
My ideas for routes
(PRT) Personal Rapid Transit
Frequently asked questions
Links to other monorail sites
Other Sites of MineA Greater Seattle My mobility web site My transportation web site My mass transit web site The Fleming Family home page
In early 2006 work was to begin on a monorail line linking West Seattle and Ballard to Downtown Seattle. The line was scheduled to open in 2010. So if the project had been completed as scheduled, people in those areas would now be enjoying the benefits of high-speed transit. People in West Seattle would be enjoying a quick trip Downtown, even when the Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed for various reasons. People in Ballard could be getting downtown in a few minutes, bypassing congestion on 15th Ave. W. and Elliott Ave. W., and never getting delayed by the Ballard Bridge opening.
But inadequate financing and alleged poor management resulted in serious problems and resulted in public opposition. The opponents of the monorail took advantage of this setback to launch a very negative mass confusion campaign, and in November 2005 a confused and skeptical public voted in favor of killing the project, just a few months before the scheduled start of construction. It is important to note that the project was killed not due to poor design, but rather to political and financial problems.
But the monorail still provides the best option for high-speed rapid transit from Downtown Seattle to West Seattle and from Downtown Seattle to Ballard and Crown Hill.
Other suggestions include light rail and rapid bus transit. But surface light rail would disrupt neighborhoods more than monorail and would require much more purchase and demolition of homes and businesses than monorail, elevated light rail would cost more and be bulkier than monorail, underground light rail would cost much more, and rapid bus transit would be slower than monorail and would be subject to delays by traffic problems.
I think that it is time for people to get together and encourage the construction of the Green Line monorail as soon as possible in order to meet the increasing need for this service.
I think that essentially the Green Line should be built according to the design proposed in mid-2005, with the following changes: There should be no single-tracked section, rather double-track for the entire line; instead of the route through the Seattle Center and down 5th Ave., it should go straight down 2nd Ave. from Key Arena; provision should be made for longer trains in the future; there should be parking provided at stations except Downtown; and the Key Arena Station should provide for connection to an extended Seattle Center Monorail.
I think that either Metro Transit or Sound Transit should build, own, and operate the Green Line. Primary funding would come from various taxes on Seattle residents, but there should also be some lower taxes on King County residents outside of Seattle because the nmonorail will also be of benefit to many King County residents that come to Seattle for shopping, business. school, sports events, or other reasons.
I am going to make a very rough estimate that the Green Line would now cost around $2.5 billion, exlusive of financing costs. The cost for the rejected 2005 Green Line proposal was about $2 billion. Millions of dollars should be saved by not going through Seattle Center, but cost of materials and labor have gone up since then. Additionally, it will cost more to double-track the entire line and to include parking facilities. It will also be necessary to buy back land that has been sold off, and in most cases it will cost more to buy it, especially since there have been improvements to some of the property. In some cases it may be better to relocate a station to a nearby property that can be acquired at a lower price.
Although I would personally prefer to see approval of the entire line, it may be more practical politically to build a shorter “starter line” in the beginning, perhaps from Sodo to Interbay, so riders can start experiencing the monorail and turn public opinion more in favor of a longer line.
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©2008 Robert M. Fleming Jr.
This page was last updated on 29 April 2016.