Seattle has been growing — rapidly — for years. And there’s one thing that newcomers always ask: “Where’s the subway?” “How come there aren’t any trains?” “I thought the Seattle was this big, sophisticated city?” Well, the story begins almost 50 years ago in 1968, when many major cities started building mass transit. Seattle had a plan, too, called “Forward Thrust.” As one progressive leader said, “People will come. You either prepare for them or you don’t.” Lots of great civic projects were on that ballot in February, 1968. In order to “thrust” the region forward, the big one was a 47-mile rapid-rail system with 32 stations. It would cost King County taxpayers $400 million, with the Federal government paying the rest. The voters chose:
A covered stadium, parks and recreation, highways, and sewers. They did not choose (*buzzing noise*) — rapid transit. But Forward Thrust was not about to stop thrusting, and the feds really wanted to help. Two years later, Forward Thrust tried again. But something had changed. The country was in recession. Boeing laid off nearly 75 percent of its Seattle employees. Voters weren’t in the mood for new taxes, no matter how good of a deal it was. The thrusting has come to an end. And the $900 million in Federal money? It went to Atlanta, which built a shiny, new subway system. Twenty year later, voters said “We should have trains!” and approve a 25-mile light-rail system, (*Cheering*) immediately followed by years of arguing about where it would go and how much it would cost. And then, lots of people fell in love… with the Monorail. In 1997, they said “Let’s build it too, all over the city!” City residents approve a plan, and lots of money is spent acquiring property before the entire idea falls apart and is scrapped. Finally, in 2009, we have a light-rail line. It is 14 miles long, from downtown Seattle to the airport. In another seven years, it goes to Capitol Hill and all the way to the University of Washington. *Cheering* People love the trains, and voted for more. Soon, trains will go to Northgate, Lynnwood and Bellevue. *Train bell rings* Sound Transit 3 — if approved — will be a $54 billion plan that includes 62 new miles of light rail to Ballard, West Seattle, and all the way to Redmond, and Issaquah, Everett to the north, and south to Tacoma. And it will open in 2041, just 73 years after the first Forward Thrust. “In Close” on KCTS 9 is made possible in part by BECU.