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Monday, May 31, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Letters to the editor

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Solving problems that don't exist and creating others

Editor, The Times:

In "Taxpayers well-served by Seattle Monorail Project" (Times guest commentary, May 24), Kristina Hill, one of a small group of monorail cheerleaders who are trying to shove this wasteful project down Seattle's throat, wrote that the monorail "... will provide travel options to Seattle residents and get them out of their cars."

There is a perfectly fine bus system between downtown and West Seattle or Ballard. The monorail would not get many people out of their cars — the vast majority of monorail riders would be people who now take the bus. The monorail would merely take the place of a few buses, at an exorbitant price.

Hill wrote, "Slowing down the monorail... is the way opponents add costs to taxpayers without solving our mobility problems." Even if there were a "mobility problem" between West Seattle and Ballard, which there is not, the monorail wouldn't solve it. It wouldn't take cars off the roads, but its columns in streets would eliminate traffic lanes along its route, making it harder to drive.

The large number of monorail opponents are trying to completely stop the monorail, which would save Seattle taxpayers over $1.5 billion. It is the monorail supporters who have added costs to taxpayers: $280 per year on a $20,000 car, indefinitely.
Gregory Buck, Seattle

Leave in Las Vegas

Councilman Peter Steinbrueck liked what he saw in Nevada's monorail, but the imposing size of their support structures apparently led him to suggest that Seattle should give over a lane of our city streets for the big, clumsy columns to avoid this problem ("Las Vegas trip boosts support for monorail," Local News, May 24).

Why don't we carry this further? Don't build any dorky columns, don't spend zillions, set aside more lanes and just dedicate them to the bus system we already have. Get some cool-looking monorail look-alike vehicles, invest the monorail/car-tab dollars in something with a decent return and we can probably ride anywhere, almost free, on the lanes we already have.
Dennis Ryan, Seattle

Backtracking critics

The concerns listed in editorial columnist Joni Balter's "Council should be ready to say 'whoops' on monorail" (May 27) are old news, and have already been answered time and time again.

The naysayers continue to contradict themselves. During the election, they said the monorail was too expensive, and now they claim it's being designed on the cheap. They want it farther from the buildings, but they don't want it in the middle of the street. First it's too big, and then it's too small. They say projected ridership is too high, and then they say it's too low.

When they're offered answers, they keep asking the same tired questions. These naysayers aren't interested in suggesting compromises, value judgments, or alternative solutions. They're just interested in maintaining the status quo.

But Seattleites will see through this because the status quo isn't enough. We don't want to be stuck in traffic. We want alternatives. How will our people move throughout our city, today and tomorrow?
Rodney Rutherford, Seattle

Subtract the ads

The Seattle Monorail Project recently spent a huge chunk of money, our money, advertising their zippy train ("In switch, monorail group pulls back on ads," Local News, May 13). Well, I would like to advise Chairman Tom Weeks and everyone else at the SMP that their job is solely to build it — if we finally let them. There is no need for them to spend our dime on advertising, especially when we've already bought their "product."

That they are so far behind their income and cost projections and are now trying to whittle a block of wood out of a toothpick is their problem. If the project succumbs to their failures and the rising tide of skepticism — and valid skepticism it is — then so be it, they have no business and maybe even no right spending a dime of taxpayer money to defend this thing, which is really what they're doing.

Whether or not it ever gets built is our decision, not theirs. If we should decide to cancel the project, then they will do as we say and close up shop. Perhaps if they had been more realistic and less ideological when they started out with this thing they wouldn't be fighting for their cushy jobs right now.

We pays our money and they takes their chances.
William Gottlieb, Seattle

The big one before The Big One

There are much bigger fish to fry at this moment than fortifying public transportation. Let's take care of the big one, the Alaskan Way Viaduct problem, and yes, it is most indeed a problem. If it gets neglected until the earth moves again, we could be looking at, at the very least, some major loss of commerce for the entire waterfront, including Coleman Dock. The effect might also be felt in the railroad industry, as the rails between Interbay and SoDo pass directly under where the viaduct terminates its elevation near Battery Street.

I would hate to see the viaduct get taken down, as it's a major plus to Seattle's sights. There's nothing quite like the view from the viaduct going north into Seattle, and I'll miss it when it goes, which it has to.

Let's prioritize and avert a potential disaster! The monorail and light rail can wait until we get the viaduct taken care of.
Gunnar Wiskoff, Seattle

You talking too mean?

Isn't it ironic that a taxi-driver can create a project that will cost this city billions of dollars over several decades (the Seattle Monorail Project), yet the head of one of the most prominent engineering firms in this city has his credentials and motives viciously attacked when he raises legitimate criticisms of the project? If he can't, who can? ("Engineer harshly criticizes monorail plan," Local News, May 21.)

And what does it say about the future of our city when much-needed civic dialogue, even from our city's elite, is continuously stifled?

I salute Jon Magnusson's willingness to elevate the discussion.
Jeff Boone, Seattle


The rest of us in peace

It is important to honor the veterans of our country's wars with memorials, such as the Vietnam War Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. But it is also important to realize that, if we had not fought in Vietnam or Korea, the United States, for better or worse, would still be around.

Such would not be the case had we not prevailed in World War II. It's a simple fact that all the citizens of this country owe their entire existence to the veterans of that war.

The monument to the veterans of that war has been around for some time: every moment of every day is a shining memorial, a living tribute, to every veteran, living or dead, who fought in that most horrible of wars.

Look around you at your fellow Americans enjoying a meal in restaurant, shopping in a supermarket, taking in a ballgame with their kids. None of this would exist if not for the sacrifices of those men and women long ago.

So take a quiet moment this weekend to honor the veterans of World War II, for they were giants.
Dave Richards, Bainbridge Island

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