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Even visionaries have given up on Seattle monorail, but it’s on the ballot in November

November will be the fifth time Seattleites will cast a vote on a publicly-funded monorail plan. (KIRO Radio Photo)

For even idealistic Seattle visionaries, voting on yet another monorail proposal is maddening.

Proposition 2 is slated to appear on Seattle’s November ballot and would again establish a new city transportation authority with the power to levy property taxes and license fees as well as issue revenue bonds, in order to study whether a monorail would be feasible in Seattle.

The new plan for a monorail would connect West Seattle to Ballard. In theory, KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney and Jason Rantz agree, it’s a great idea to connect the two neighborhoods.

The last monorail campaign began almost 15 years ago and it’s the fifth time Seattlites will be casting a monorail-related vote. The last monorail project was well on its way to construction when voters rejected a long-term financing plan in 2005.

This time, Prop. 2 would start with a $5 car tab fee in order to just begin the planning process.

The Dori Monson Show

“You may recall, a few years ago, the City of Seattle spent $124 million on another monorail plan,” says Dori. “They stole that money.”

Read: Dori’s take

Tom and Jason say that we’ve already learned a monorail is too expensive and its technology is no longer the dream of a World’s Fair, making it hardly a “visionary” project, as Tom put it.

Jason says connecting two of Seattle’s “hardest to get to” neighborhoods is a challenge that should be addressed. “Let’s figure that out, but do we need to go down this route that has been proven in the past not to work here? Because no one has the appetite for that kind of cost.”

Tom says in the end, the monorail already proved to be a boondoggle. “The problem is, nine years ago we already studied it to death and it took more go-arounds before we finally had a feasibility study that said it wasn’t feasible,” said Tom. “Even for somebody like me, who would like to find a justification for it, even the people behind this proposal say, ‘Well, we don’t know how we’d pay for it, that’s why we need to do all these studies first.’ Come on!”

Elizabeth Campbell, known to some as a “serial initiative filer” as well as an anti-tunnel activist, is spearheading the monorail effort and says we can learn from the mistakes of the previous mass transit efforts.

Campbell tells KIRO Radio she plans to file initiatives in Shoreline, Burien, Tukwila and Renton in the next two months to start the process of extending the monorail out of Seattle.

KIRO Radio’s Tim Haeck contributed to this report.

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