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Hutchison: Ditch Sound Transit Plan, Build Light Rail on 520

By Erica C. Barnett October 20, 2009

Seattle Transit Blog has an impressive scoop: In a statement to STB, King County Executive candidate Hutchison said, "We should build light rail on the new 520 with a designated lane.  We should not take lanes away from I-90 for light rail."

Hutchison's opposition to voter-approved light rail on I-90 (and thus to the entire Sound Transit 2 plan adopted last November) is in keeping with her support from (and of) Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, who is suing to stop light rail from running to the Eastside. The I-90 alignment—which has been, again, approved by voters—would send light rail through downtown Bellevue, where Freeman owns tens of thousands of square feet of commercial and retail property.

STB also reports that Hutchison defended Freeman's lawsuit during a debate last Saturday night, calling it "a violation of the 18th amendment [to the state constitution], which says roads money can’t be used for any other purpose" besides building roads.

Hutchison has said repeatedly that she supports light rail. However, the implication of her proposal would be to kill a project that was overwhelmingly approved by voters across King County

Sandeep Kaushik, spokesman for Hutchison's opponent, Dow Constantine, calls Hutchison's statement "just the latest indication of her true anti-environmental and anti-transit views. She's doing the bidding of her biggest supporter, Kemper Freeman."

At a press conference responding to anti-Constantine ads (which were funded by Freeman and other anti-environmental interests) this morning, Constantine noted that the King County Executive appoints ten of the 17 members of the Sound Transit board. "The executive will have more power than any other person [over] the fate of light rail," Constantine said.

PubliCola has a call in to Hutchison's campaign spokesman Jordan McCarren for comment.

Full disclosure: Kaushik helped found PubliCola in January. He has no editorial role at PubliCola.

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