Ross: We built it, and they had better come

May 1, 2024, 1:20 PM

Image: Sound Transit tested train service on the 2 Line between southern Bellevue and Microsoft for...

Sound Transit tested train service on the 2 Line between southern Bellevue and Microsoft for several months ahead of its opening at the end of April 2024. (Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

According to The Seattle Times, 17,500 people showed up for the opening of the Eastside light rail line.

That’s only about 12% of the people who saw Taylor Swift in Seattle, but for the opening of a rail line that only goes six miles, it’s not too bad. It shows that people are at least curious about how it feels to get to Redmond without driving there.

But I can’t help noticing that relatively few people currently live within walking distance of those Eastside light rail stations. The South Bellevue station is basically in a swamp.

And for the system to be worth all the money we’ve spent, that will have to change. There will have to be massive development around those stations, whether the salmon like it or not. That’s where the future growth has to happen. Large residential high-rises, and the businesses and parks to support them.

In Bellevue: Sound Transit’s East Link 2-Line is online

And it means the character of many of the neighborhoods along that line will have to evolve.

The only question is – are we going to accept it – or engage in a resistance movement that is doomed to fail.

I predict that this area is going to continue to grow – because if nothing else, climate change is going to create domestic refugees from the overheated areas south of here.  And there is no room – and no money – for more highways.  Interstate 405 (I-405) is already more like an airstrip, and I don’t think we’re going to build a third bridge across the lake.

So we are at peak pavement.

And the newcomers will have to live in communities that don’t need cars.

Which may sound crazy, but it’s how my parents grew up, and they survived pretty well.

More from Dave Ross: Does the right to protest outweigh the right to learn?

I may not live to see it, but with any luck, 20 years from now, we’ll be zipping back and forth wondering how anyone back in the 2020’s tolerated wacky ideas like Express Toll Lanes, diverging diamonds, mammoth three-level cloverleafs, and all the endless congestion, construction, conflict and carbon that came with trying to put every commuter in their own – mostly-empty – car.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: We built it, and they had better come