Letters to the Editor

Transit's pros and cons

I would very much like to comment on Al Stipe’s letter (May 28, “Transit argument is misinformed”) in which he dissects my letter expressing my dissatisfaction with the machinations of what I refer to as the council majority, noting what he calls “misinformation” used by me to sway the electorate. He does, however, graciously commend democratic reaction; so brace yourself, Mr. Stipe. Here comes some more democratic reaction.

First, concerning the number of stalls in the transit garage to be at the old Silo location, if you are correct and it is 1,200 and not 1,500 car spaces, then my mistake was not checking, as both numbers have been used in various papers and I chose to use 1,500 for impact –– which, admit it, is what we’re both aiming for. For that I apologize. But, honestly, how can Mr. Stipe look a Federal Way driver in the face and say 1,200 additional cars ‘in the middle of a shopping district’ will not impact traffic? He says, “Yes, they will somewhat increase traffic on 317th and 318th, but not the infamous corner of Pacific Highway South and 320th.” Who is dissembling here? Tell us, please, are all these cars being lowered to 317th and 318th by balloon?  

I have lived here 43 years, since before that corner had a light, and believe me, it’s called infamous for a reason. One ages visibly waiting to get through, and those 1,200 cars are coming from somewhere. Plus, what about all those cars relocating from the bus lots to the new one “in the middle of a shopping district?”

Secondly, Mr. Stipe seems to be writing more in defense of certain people –– perhaps some friends on the Federal Way City Council, and on transit committees instead of against my comments in the letter to which he refers, as he seems to have missed my point entirely. I’m aware of all sorts of input for design. For instance, I’m aware of a design charette, in 1999 I believe, led by Ron Gintz, Jeanne Burbidge and Mike Park; (Mary Gates present as a guest?) at which around 100 people voted on the design.  (There were about 80,000 residents in Federal Way; hardly a landslide). 

However, my comments had nothing to do with the transit center’s design;  it’s fine. I referred to it’s location and it’s ultimate use and Mary Gates’ ‘attitude’ toward people who protest. There’s just gobs of public input, but it doesn’t seem to matter how much input certain council members receive on certain matters; they follow their own agenda, and I’ll say it again, voters be damned. Example: An enormous number of people, valued and well-known political leaders, a vast amount of the citizenry statewide are against the light rail, but King County Executive Ron Simms and Sound Transit powers-that-be (Gates is on committees both here and Seattle; Burbidge here only) refuse to let it go back to a vote, knowing it would suffer overwhelming defeat. They say this is what the people voted for in 1996. Wrong! Today’s light rail doesn’t remotely resemble what we voted for. We voted for a 21-mile line for $1.7 billion which today will cost $7 billion, with plans in the future to extend 20 to 30 miles (for $20 million or $30 billion more?) both directions, and the Silo site in Federal Way is the light rail station in our future. 

Also, Mr. Stipe failed to mention the ongoing lawsuits of the majority of the businesses (public input) who don’t want train traffic in the middle of the shopping district. Or, for that matter, a bus station.

I’m all for transit. I rode a bus every workday for 15 years and consider it a great boon to any community, and I believe bus service should be enhanced. I think the Sounder is great. But light rail isn’t the answer. And certainly not in the middle of a shopping district. Sound Transit will tell you themselves that it won’t solve the traffic problems, it just gives another option. Well, frankly, a lot of us can’t afford an unknown-billions of dollars option that won’t solve anything.

I guess some of us feel having Sound Transit persons on the City Council makes it look like “personal agenda” and causes public input to, seemingly, be ignored. And having someone from Sound Transit evaluate the impact of 1,200 cars on traffic in the middle of a shopping center and find no problem is just plain ludicrous. Why not place a station in the mall parking lot? Oh, right, I forgot: The council majority wants to run five streets (north and south) right through the middle of the mall within the next 10 years. And the new mall owners didn’t know about this before they bought and have protested. Hmm, the council knew.

Mr. Stipe says he hopes, in my effort to replace certain council members, I will back candidates who are honest, informed and whose interests are the same as past council members who have used sound fiscal judgment to continue to make Federal Way a growing, healthy community. You betcha, Mr. Stipe; but I will also want them to consider my sound fiscal health and to try and keep me and my fellow citizens from being taxed out of our homes in the worst economy in history for someone’s huge, expensive and inappropriate visions. Also, I consider these extremely important and necessary reasons for which to try and sway the electorate, and, significantly, a great many people seem to agree with me.

Long live democratic reaction!

Clara McArthur

Federal Way

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