This post—originally posted at 12:30 PM—has been updated with comments from council member Mike O'Brien and Mayor Mike McGinn.
The city council's transportation committee just passed legislation, sponsored by council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen, that will bar Mayor Mike McGinn from spending city money to implement his proposed Transit Master Plan, but agreed to include a clause saying the provision would sunset after a reasonable period at the request of council member Mike O'Brien.
"No mayor likes budget provisos, because it limits what they can do, but that is one of the responsibilities of the council," Rasmussen said after the vote.
"My idea would be to say [to the mayor], 'Yes, we trust you, but we have some concerns that we want addressed in this Transit Master Plan," O'Brien said. "If, for whatever reason, we can't reach an agreement on what we're comfortable studying, then we would put the brakes on."
O'Brien said he wanted to put a time limit on the proviso to "make sure this thing doesn't just sit around and stall transit funding" for months or years into the future.
The proposal passed with two votes, with O'Brien abstaining.
At a press briefing this morning, McGinn confirmed that one intent of his proposed Transit Master Plan is to come up with a proposal to build light rail to West Seattle and Ballard. "I think [light rail] should be an element of it," McGinn said. "If the intention of the council---and I sincerely hope it's not---if the intention of the council is to narrow the options of what we're studying to preclude certain options, I think that would be a mistake."
However, in his office after this morning's transportation committee meeting, Rasmussen expressed surprise that McGinn wanted light rail to be in the plan. "Typically, light rail is something that occurs regionally rather than city by city," Rasmussen said. "I wonder if the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee would want that money to go to light rail planning" rather than other modes of transit like electric trolleys, streetcars, and buses.
"I think we should eventually have something like [light rail to Ballard and West Seattle], but it seems premature to me, when we haven't even built light rail to the University District, to start building it to West Seattle and Crown Hill."
McGinn also said that he only plans to fund the Transit Master Plan out of the 2007 Bridging the Gap levy for one year. Some Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee members expressed concern about spending Bridging the Gap dollars on transit planning when funding for bike, pedestrian, and other transportation needs is in short supply.
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