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May 4, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Kemper Freeman keeping light rail to Eastside at bay

Posted by Letters editor

Gear up for next legislative session

Editor, The Times:

If Bellevue real-estate mogul Kemper Freeman supports expanded bus service, he has done little to show it [“Kemper’s last stand,” page one, May 2].

Instead of spending millions to promote bus transit, Freeman has spent millions at the other end — opposing light rail. His lawsuit against converting the I-90 center lanes to light rail is no more than a distraction that infringes upon voter’s will.

Freeman alleges the lanes cannot be used to accommodate rail because the state constitution’s 18th amendment prohibits using gas-tax funds for anything that is not a “highway purpose.” However, a 1976 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) stipulates that the purpose for building the lanes was for future conversion to dedicated transit. A 2004 amendment specifies this transit as a high-capacity mode, such as “light rail, monorail or a substantially equivalent system.”

The provisions in the MOA are clear: In the case of the center lanes, conversion to rail is a designated “highway purpose” that is no less constitutional than funding I-405’s expansion with gas-tax funds.

If Freeman really is for transit, then I expect him to stop fighting light rail and show up in Olympia during the next legislative session to advocate for more transit funding.

— Sherwin Lee, Bellevue

Traffic flow or foe?

The issue of traffic flow on Highway 520 is similar to any other flow. With an increase of three lanes in each direction from the present two lanes, it logically appears that there would be a 50 percent increase of traffic capacity in each direction. It is recognized that Interstate 5 is operating at capacity.

I have asked the state Department of Transportation and Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin many times where the increase in traffic from the expansion of the Highway 520 bridge would go. However, I have constantly been ignored.

I would appreciate it if someone knowledgeable regarding this subject would tell me: If it is correct to assume that if we ignore the question, would the increase traffic just disappear?

— David N. Rudo, Seattle

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