Planners, consultants address concerns about expansion of bike lanes citywide

Some of the attendees who gathered via Zoom Feb. 24 to discuss proposed bicycle lanes in Edmonds.

From residents concerned about losing parking spaces to bicyclists looking forward to a safer ride, dozens of attendees interested in a plan to place bike lanes in several Edmonds neighborhoods gathered for a virtual open house Feb. 24.

The meeting was led by Ryan Hague, City of Edmonds capital projects manager, and included several city staff members and consultants working on the project, plus three city councilmembers.

Hague started the meeting by noting there has been “quite a high degree of interest in this project,” adding: “We want to answer everybody’s questions tonight but the sheer volume that we’ve received means that getting to them all tonight is a little unlikely.

The project, funded by a $1.85 million Sound Transit Access grant, would add bike lanes on both sides of various Edmonds streets, including:
·        100th Avenue West/9th Avenue South from 244th Street Southwest to Walnut Street.
·        Walnut Street/Bowdoin Way from 9th Avenue South to 84th Avenue West. 
·        228th Street Southwest from 78th Avenue West to 80th Avenue West. 
·        Sharrows will be added along 80th Avenue West from 228th Street Southwest to 220th Street Southwest.

Ken Lauzen, from consultant Blueline, gave a project overview and explained that the proposal will increase bike lanes in Edmonds from eight miles to over 14 miles. “The reason that the Sound Transit grant came about is because it provides access to both the Edmonds and Mountlake (Terrace) transit stations for cyclists and encourages people to explore other methods of transportation,” Lauzen said.

He then explained the efforts the city has taken to date to identify some of the corridors of the bike plan. Blueline was selected to help with both the outreach and design, which started at the end of 2020 with a field survey of the areas, parking study and traffic analysis. Based on preliminary discussions and listening sessions, staff then presented a preliminary alternative to the Edmonds City Council, which was approved in August 2020.

Pablo Para of PH Consulting then discussed the parking and traffic analysis. “We started by collecting very detailed traffic and parking data,” he said. “We used some older data that the city had previously collected and did research to find pre-COVID-19 data, and used those to put together an evaluation of the quality of the data to make sure that the analysis was thorough and supportable.

The results and some of the preliminary recommendations from that analysis are shown on the interactive project map for bicycle lanes, which is based on the city’s GIS platform. Anyone interested in the project can navigate to any spot and toggle the various design options to see how each one would impact accessibility and parking. Users can then submit feedback via the website to let city staff know which option they prefer and why.

To accommodate more specific questions about the impacted neighborhoods, residents were invited to join one of three, 30-minute Zoom breakout sessions focused on each project area.

In the breakout room for 100th Avenue West/9th Avenue South, the question was asked: “Middle two-way left-turn lanes had been promised at a minimum on 9th Avenue, especially as it was a main reason given to make it safer for cars, bikes, and pedestrians when this was presented to council and the public prior.  Where are they?”

Rsponding to the question, Edmonds Public Works Director Phil Williams said, “I might have been one of the ones at the council meeting. I don’t recall ever saying that. I ‘d be happy to go back and look at the council meeting and see if anyone said that, but that has never been an option on 9th and 100th.”

Another question about 9th Avenue addresse road sharrows — pavement markings that improve cycling safety on streets that are too narrow for traditional bike lanes. “Is the dedicated left-turn lane on 9th and 220th heading south staying or being removed to add the dedicated bike lanes at that intersection? Or will bike lanes be a sharrow there?”

Hague replied: “There’s never been any desire to remove that left-turn lane, that turn lane is absolutely necessary. We’ve looked at the northbound right-turn lane on to 220th and decided that one has to stay as well. We think as of right now we’ll be able to get bike lanes and turn lanes in that intersection.”

Added Para: “The alternative that is shown on the GIS site for that intersection is what we would recommend and it maintains all of the existing driving lanes that are there now and accommodates the bike lanes with some minor widening.”

A question was also asked related to conducting the study during COVID-19: “Why is the street parking data that was collected during the early weeks of COVID considered an accurate representation of parking habits?”

Maria Tribelhorn of PH Consulting explained that they collected data in November of 2020, which represents a relatively stable time during the pandemic. “The parking data was compared to data that had been collected in the same area at various times from 2011 to 2020. The data comparison showed that the number of parked cars was actually consistent with previous data that was collected, indicating that the number of parked cars does not need to be corrected for the pandemic,” she said.

Previous questions sent in before the meeting included were addressed.

Q: The city assured the public there would be parking left at a minimum of 50%. If this is true, please address the reasoning for zero street parking even being included as an option.

A: “This is something that we asked the consultant to develop as a part of our due diligence,” Hague said. “The zero street parking is not a preferred alternative, it never has been, it’s never been recommended.  It’s just something that we developed as a theoretical option.”

Q: Most neighboring property (90%-plus) on these routes are houses with driveways, so the enormous residential impacts of this project are important to remember. Will this impact turning movement?

A: “The short answer is no,” said Para of PH Consulting. “There won’t be any restrictions to anyone’s existing access created by this project. In fact, the project will likely improve the ability for drivers to have better sight distance getting in and out of driveways.”

Q: For trash pick-ups, will residents be asked to place trash receptacles on the sidewalk and not the parking or bike lane?

A:  “This is something that we’re currently discussing with the trash companies,” Hague explained. “So far based on our current discussion it looks like we’re going to be able to place trash receptacles behind the sidewalk. This won’t impede the sidewalk or the bicycle lane. Once the project is complete, residents will be provided information on what the procedure is going to be.”

Q: The City has done vehicle traffic studies. Have they also done bike studies in order to estimate bike ridership and bike land usage?

A: “Definitely,” responded City Transportation ngineer Betrand Hauss. “Anytime you have these kinds of grants you have to do a pre-installation bike traffic count and then a post-traffic installation count; just to see how efficient and what kind of increases your project has generated in terms of bike activity. It’s a common process.”

Another major concern expressed by several participants focused on the section surrounding the Westgate area of grocery stores and retail shops. The fear is that taking away a lane could severely impact the already highly congested intersection, especially during school and business hours.

Councilmember Vivian Olson also addressed worries about bike lanes on Bowdoin Way near Yost Park, because visitors in the summertime park on the street when they use Yost Pool. “I’m super concerned about having adequate parking by Yost and the safety at that intersection,” Olson said. “I really wish the city would take off on this website or any other discussions of this; take off the ones that say, ‘We’re going to have no parking.’ Putting that up there as an option doesn’t honor the input that we got this summer and frankly I don’t think that the vote from council would have been what it was if that was still on the table. It really muddies the water.”

Hank Landau, who owns property around 100th Avenue West, said he supports the bike project. “I recognize that there is some impedance of traffic in that intersection, but I’m much more concerned about the safety of bicycles and pedestrians,” Landau said. “So I’m all-in favor of extending the bike routes through the intersection — I really support what you ‘re doing.”

“We’re going to try to make this (the project) data driven,” Williams said. “I think there are tradeoffs on every single question that comes up here and we’re trying to balance how to make things safe for bikes, for pedestrians, and certainly to maintain safety on vehicles  as well. There’s going to have to be impacts to parking in order to accommodate the bicycle improvements that we’re wanting to make. There will be people that like the balance the city may select and there will certainly be those that do not”

In an effort to address the concerns and questions presented during the meeting, the entire panel stayed late and extended the date by which residents can vote on the presented options — from Feb. 26 to March 1. You can cast your vote and learn more about the project here.

Panel members welcome questions, comments or concerns and can be reached by email at bikelanes@edmondswa.gov or by phone at 425-771-0220.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Aug. 25.

— By Misha Carter

31 Replies to “Planners, consultants address concerns about expansion of bike lanes citywide”

  1. If the funding for these bicycle lanes were not being subsidized by the Transit system, would the people of Edmonds consider this a valid proposal, if it came from taxes which may reduce funding for other projects?

    Many of the bicycle stations that were set up in Seattle became a liability since the rental of bikes took over public space and ended up not being financially a smart investment.

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    1. I am saddened that this report presents such one-sided issue reporting against safe alternative modes of transportation. The meeting also covered discussion about how to make these bike lanes better for all constituents, and arguments for refinement including how to address the intersection of Edmonds Way (Hwy 104) and 100th, which produced great commentary; both in favor and opposed to access improvements, and produced real action items for follow-up that this article does not touch upon.

      The group largely agreed that an interim design update before the next August meeting would be beneficial to the community as well as provide additional outreach and refinement opportunity. Selectively choosing to publish only the questions that criticized the bike lane or significantly reduces its worthiness are disingenuous to the conversation. I completely support neighbors right to question the need, but please frame the conversation in a more balanced manner, and acknowledge the comments in support so that they may also be part of the greater conversation.

      Please improve your coverage by publishing information acknowledging community support for these bike lanes and actively hope for the improvements they may bring; including additional pedestrian crosswalks at major intersections, reduced vehicle speeding along 9th/100th, and improved pedestrian sightlines and buffer from motor vehicles on these important pedestrian routes.

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    2. I can guarantee if the city had not received a grant, none of this would be happening. They got $1.8 million for bike lanes and they took it. Our city council seems to operate under the notion that if someone gives us money, we should take it, never mind whether they are fixing a real problem. There are far more important ways we need to be using city tax dollars, such as making the Hwy 99 corridor safe for pedestrians which is a real problem. I do not for one minute believe the comment “ if we build it, they will come” when referring to bicycles on 9th Ave and Bowdoin Way. It appears that most likely, they will remove parking on one side of the street to make room for bike lanes. It’s simply too hilly, and we might get a few more than we have today, but a few more than practically none is still not worth the expense. Not to mention the fact that removing parking on one side of 9th Avenue will create a game of human Frogger for guests, delivery drivers and home maintenance workers who will be forced to cross a busy street to get to their destination. Accidents will happen, and then will be paying money to settle lawsuits. All because the city took a grant to fix a nonexistent problem. I encourage every voter in Edmonds to pay close attention to the decisions our council makes on everything and make your voice heard. I wish I had paid attention to this 2 years ago.

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      1. I am looking forward to added bike lanes. My family and I would definitely use the route from 5 corners to 9th, among others. It’s far safer than riding down Main (no bike lane) or 220th (very busy street with lots of turning cars). Bowdoin is also less steep and more scenic, with access to Yost Park making it so that taking a car to the park is not needed. As a cyclist with a child in tow, having more bike lanes increases the safety of our family as we take advantage of the amenities of the city we live in.

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  2. I hate to say this, because biking is fun and healthy, but bikes don’t pay any yearly fees like cars do, so perhaps we should start adding a yearly fee for riding bikes to help with these costs? also neighborhoods pay property taxes and expect to park outside their homes plus their visitors, taking away spaces doesn’t make sense as our roads are narrow enough.

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    1. I think there are several reasons cyclists don’t pay a yearly cycling fee. 1. The cost of infrastructure (traffic lights, parking enforcement, traffic enforcement, emergency services, road maintenance, etc.) for vehicles is substantially higher than for bikes. Vehicle tabs pay for that infrastructure. The financial benefits of having more people ride bikes significantly outweighs the cost of the nominal infrastructure to encourage that behavior. 2. Having more people riding their bikes instead of driving is advantageous to the city because it reduces traffic congestion, smog, the need for more infrastructure for parking, road wear and tear, etc. Having bike tabs is counter to encouraging more people to bike. 3. Enforcement would be extremely difficult, costly, and is an unnecessary burden on law enforcement, which would likely require a new division to handle that enforcement simply because people don’t park their bikes in the same place cars park. 4. Accessibility is important. Not everyone can afford a vehicle or all the costs associated with it. Biking is one of the few truly financially accessible options for people who don’t have a lot or any of money.

      I think your suggestion is a natural response to the perceived or actual loss of something, which is understandable. Nevertheless, it doesn’t get you closer to a solution which addresses your concern of a potential loss of parking spots in your area. I don’t have any answers or comfort to provide in that area, as I don’t have enough information to assist (let alone the engineering expertise), but if I were in your shoes I’d inquire about data related to current parking needs in your area and the city’s solution/alternatives to address the displacement of vehicles as they will likely need to go somewhere or just not have access.

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      1. Bikes need to pay for their portion for infrastructure improvements and maintenance. The bike riders in Edmonds are mostly recreational riders not commuters, so using the “talking points” re what great rewards bikers provide the community does not really apply…perhaps in Seattle, but certainly not in Edmonds.

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        1. I want to highlight that many cyclists are also drivers and property owners, so they actually do pay for their portion, just as we also pay for bridges that we may not use or sidewalks in other areas we also may not use. I think the issue I am noticing in this forum is that it there is an assumption that adding bike lanes to roads does not add anything for drivers and that it only takes away parking.

          I’d like to compare bike lanes to sidewalks to highlight how that added infrastructure provides several similar benefits. It’s aesthetically pleasing, it organizes the space, it increases predictability on the roads by clearly designating where people and cars should be, and it promotes access to more places for people who cannot or choose not to drive.

          Bike lanes, likewise, reduce the unpredictability of riding on open roads because there aren’t parked cars , garbage bins, and other obstacles a rider has to weave around. It also establishes a clear path for cyclists that is safe so that they aren’t riding in other areas where vehicles may not be expecting them. If you haven’t been a cyclist, then you probably aren’t aware of these obstacles and the impact it has on safety. Bikes can’t stop or evade on a dime like a car can, so they need specific areas there are designated as safe.

          The City Counsel plan focuses on connecting public parks to each other, to currently designated bike lanes, and also transit sights to each other, thereby interweaving recreation with current infrastructure, and also other transportation infrastructure. Without this, we just have a few roads that have bike lanes with no connection between any of them.

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  3. What are the statistics re bike riders on the proposed roads? Is there a need we are addressing?
    It feels like the taxpayers are being pushed into unnecessary changes and/or spending…nationwide Police Chief recruitment, Social worker, bike lanes, Housing Commission recommendations for rezoning. What have I forgotten?

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  4. I don’t see that many bicyclers out. And we need all the parking we can get….with businesses having to survive by using parking/sidewalk space..(we don’t know how long this will go on)..it seems like this could be re-thought for a while.

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  5. It would have been nice to see this 1.85 million considered for something all are interested in and actually use. Maybe you did consider other ideas and I am not aware?
    I have seen much as far as bicyclists are concerned, very irresponsible riding…no stops. Come out of lane into traffic on curves…etc. I almost hit one on 76th west corner at 212th. I was in my turn lane, he was too but when we went around the corner he over cut and right into my lane. He quickly turned back. He was literally 2 seconds from being creamed.
    Another thing yes Bowdoin will be dangerous. And it will effect parking there drastically.
    I want them licensed so they too can be charged if they CAUSE an accident. I think its a waste of money myself.
    Another problem is that many many streets East of 9th…don’t have side walks. So where do we walk. Out in the street left of the bicycle lanes???? Also a risk for pedestrians…think law suits Edmonds.
    These are not my hopes, they are just realities.
    Anyone have other suggestions for places that are not Bowl related?

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  6. This is totally insane there are much better and more important ways to spend this money. If you cant stay in your lane and fallow the rules whither in a car or on a bike then you should not be on the road at all . Pedestrians and bike should be traveling the opposite way from cars that way they can see on coming vehicles, WOW can we use common sense . We should be putting up better lighting fixing bad roads maybe even more signage. lets concentrate on making thing better for everyone in Edmonds not just the few.

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    1. Riding into oncoming traffic is the opposite of bike safety. Since bikes need to make turns like cars do, they need to be traveling in the same direction as other vehicles. I think many of the gripes about bikes is predominantly due to people not understanding what bicyclists need to not interfere with traffic and be safe.

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  7. Has there been any analysis or consideration of spending that $1.85 million dollars on helping pedestrians get access to Community transit buses and safe, sheltered bus stops? If the goal is to get people out of cars – people need viable ways to get to all transit. Some of those buses will eventually be routed to the light rail but meantime they would get lots of use for many trips that would have been made by cars. Ask anyone in the neighborhoods without sidewalks…it’s usually the number one request of their elected officials.

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    1. I wrote a pretty thoughtful response to why licensing bikes is not a wise option. In addition to what I also posted above, I’d like to remind folks that kids as young as 2 years old also own and use bikes. Requiring licenses for bikes also requires kids to have licenses. I don’t think this kind of gate keeping is necessary. What next, have people get licenses for their shoes?

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  8. I wanna find a new way to commute between the coffee shop on 3rd. the coffee shop on 5th and the four stores that sell rocks.

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  9. This is a perfect example of a project that benefits only a few who actually want it and really makes little sense in terms of the large amount of money being spent (wasted). The city needs to turn the money down, tell the transit people we don’t need or want bike lanes to gum up our car traffic and parking and that the money needs to be spent ASAP on getting the light rail project completed sooner than later, which will benefit us as a town and a region. Someone above mentioned “common sense” about the lack of any real need for this project. Bicyclists simply need to obey all the traffic laws and watch out for cars and trucks which are probably not watching out for them. Pedestrians and bicyclists always lose in these encounters no matter who’s at fault. And no we don’t need to tax and license people for bike riding or walking. That’s not an answer either.

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    1. Ultimately, I think this comes down to values and disagreements around the overall vision of Edmonds. Having previously lived in Ballard and seen how a neighborhood can dramatically change in 10 years, I have seen how not addressing alternative forms of transportation can really negatively impact infrastructure. I think the overall vision of this project is to make the city more pedestrian and bike accessible so that when we get our version of Ballard (not looking forward to that, but it is what it is), that there are some steps in place to address some of the problems we’ve seen there. I think the City Counsel is anticipating increased growth and wanting to plan for it with projects like this. I think it’s fair, however, to argue that there are better strategies to address this than the existing plan that also works with the vision of Edmonds being more walkable, pedestrian, and bike friendly instead of the car metropolis that is Ballard.

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      1. Ballard moved forward with a high density plan–apartments, condos, building line-to line…turning a pretty little town into the mess we see today. The high density approach brings more people thus more cars. Bike lanes would not have changed what happened in Ballard. Biking for daily transportation is not a reality in this climate and the Hills, oh the Hills!
        Sadly, Edmonds is also looking at housing rezoning that will increase the density and thus traffic. The high density here has not yet been approved. I do hope we don’t follow the failed Ballard experience, but assuming we do–Bike lanes will not solve the problem.

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        1. The positioning of my argument wasn’t that it would have solved or prevented Ballard from becoming what it was, but rather that the natural growth of a community benefits from diverse infrastructure. The current infrastructure for cyclists is incomplete. The proposed infrastructure at least connects the existing infrastructure to itself, to parks, and to transit. Without that, there’s just a few random bike lanes that don’t go anywhere or have much purpose.

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  10. I was in the meeting (even in the picture at the beginning of the article). I was very disappointed. I submitted questions in advance; none were addressed. I felt it was a sales pitch, not a discussion. I guess there really isn’t a sincere desire for public input.

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  11. Who is determining the direction and character of our city? Sound Transit? Sure seems so based on this article. And how do we benefit? I would suggest that our priorities are misplaced. We should be targeting sidewalk improvements before we earmark precious resources for bicycle lanes. Certainly Sound Transit would be just as interested in people walking to their system as those who bicycle. I’d be curious how many people use our sidewalks vs. those who bicycle. I’m guessing we know the answer, but choosing to ignore it.

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  12. Even as an avid biker and walker, I don’t see the value added or a cost/benefit win/win with the City’s proposal. The money would be better spent upgrading the bike- and walk-ability on Edmonds Way. Bikers have some nice trails in the Interurban, Burke Gilman and Sammamish River systems. The challenge is that they don’t always connect, so the result is putting bikers on roads only safe for cars. Edmonds in particular has never addressed connecting its city center with the Interurban corridor. While 212th, 220th and 244th may have segments of bike lanes, those lanes don’t go all the way past SR-99 to the Interurban, which makes those routes inherently unsafe for bicyclists. Edmonds Way in particular is extremely dangerous for cycling, and it’s mish-mash of sidewalks makes it a nightmare for walkers as well. Has there been any consideration to putting Edmonds Way on a road diet, making room for standard sidewalks and narrow bike lanes? This would be the most natural connector between Seattle/Shoreline and Edmonds city center.

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    1. I am definitely looking forward to these new bike lanes. It’s all benefit and no down sides. The easiest decision we will make.

      Most of the opposition was about the idea of bile lanes rather than the reality of what was being proposed. If you actually look at this project, it is a benefit for everyone without any construction costs for the city.

      Part of the problem is that the website showing the options was confusing and not comprehensive. A lot of the confusion was based on this:

      Q: The city assured the public there would be parking left at a minimum of 50%. If this is true, please address the reasoning for zero street parking even being included as an option.

      A: “This is something that we asked the consultant to develop as a part of our due diligence,” Hague said. “The zero street parking is not a preferred alternative, it never has been, it’s never been recommended. It’s just something that we developed as a theoretical option.”

      This project would not reduce any parking, the area along 9th or Bowdoin that is 90-95% empty today will still have WAY more than enough empty unused parking spaces to make people feel good. It would have a lot of positives, including access and pressure on parking downtown where there actually is a serious parking problem.

      In practically this project is a complete win. Ideally we would take this passion, and put it towards serious issues in this city.

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    2. You can’t spend this money on any other project. This is a grant to improve access to the Sound Transit station. Use it or lose it.

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      1. The Interurban Trail has a missing link at the crossing of SR 104, at the Edmonds/Shoreline border. Completing the trail will provide safer, better access to the Sound Transit station than any location in the Bowl. The Interurban Trail is used by walkers and bikers. It baffles me why the City ignored this needed improvement to the regional bike trail. The Interurban Trail needs more money than this ST grant, but still, $1.8 million would go a long way if put towards this much more sensible use.

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  13. Following up on a recent comment I made about the *financial* aspects of this bike lane project (and no other aspect), I wanted to follow-up today by saying that I just heard on NPR that Sound Transit is experiencing a huge short fall on their funding and have no idea how they are going to fill the gaps. Yet, they have money to give away (grants) for nice-to-have bike lanes? Interesting.

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    1. I think Sound Transit is required to spend this money though. They’ve designated this money for grants already, in a prior budget, so I think they have to spend it. Unless they can somehow un-designate the money for grants then the grant money will go elsewhere to another community that asks for it. Abstaining from participating in this grant does not result in Sound Transit budgeting more appropriately, at the scale that they need to, and only serves another community that decides to move forward with the grant when we don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I think your criticisms are valid, but I think that they are best made to Sound Transit, with a recommendation to pull all grants to cover the shortfall, rather than the elimination of this specific grant. Lastly, the budgetary shortfall is 11.4 Billion dollars. This project costs 1.85 Million. That means that the cost of this project to Sound Transit represents .015% of the their budget. Again, I think it’s valid to examine how Sound Transit spends their money, but there may be bigger fish to fry than the .015% portion that this grant represents.

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