Moments ago, the state Senate passsed a 520 plan—Eastside suburban Seattle Sen. Rodney Tom's (D-48) bill that confirms last year's 520 plan, including the $4.6 billion price tag and giving the green light for the eastside projects to break ground.

More important, it slapped down a move by Seattle leaders Mayor Mike McGinn, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) and Seattle area Reps. Frank Chopp (D-43) and Jamie Pedersen (D-43) to rejigger the plan. The Seattleites want to tame the bridge plan so it doesn't upend the Montlake neighborhood and more important, they want the two of the six lanes to be dedicated to rapid transit—either bus rapid transit or light rail—as opposed to HOV lanes.

Sen. Murray gave a dejected speech—and was only one of 3 'Nay' votes—complaining that the current plan didn't promote a comprehensive transit plan that would connect buses and light rail. He also announced: "My constituents are not a bunch of NIMBYs."

After the vote, Sen. Tom told PubliCola that 5,000 jobs were at stake and it was time to move forward on the project. He said Seattle still had "carte blanche" to design the west side of the project. "We're not going to design the west side of the project," he said. However, he added WSDOT had already ruled out Rep. Chopp's more expensive tunnel option.



Standing next to Tom in the Senate wings, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48)—a cosponsor of the House version—was quietly beaming. He knows he's in for a fight on the House side, where powerful Speaker Chopp may pull out the stops to halt the current plan from going forward.

Asked about the coming fight with the House No. 1, Hunter said simply he had  the majority of the Seattle City Council on his side, the Seattle chamber, and labor—referring to a recent press conference staged by supporters of the current option. (Chopp's crew, including Mayor Mike McGinn, held a press conference of their own earlier this month.)
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