Bob Wodnik with Nick Licata
We are still evaluating the effects of the passage of I-976, Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to reduce car tab fees to $30 but this setback would not be the first in the rocky history of rail transit in our region. Bob Wodnik, author of Back on Track: Sound Transit’s Fight to Save Light Rail (Washington State University Press), notes that while Seattle’ first rail transit system was built over a century ago, automobiles, buses and roads gradually replaced that system. It wasn’t until 1996 when voters passed a $3 regional mass transit plan. After light rail estimates came in over $1 billion over budget with a projected three year delay, the project nearly collapsed. Executive Director Joni Earl, (working with Link executive director Ahmad Fazel, and then Mayor Greg Nickels, among others) helped navigate lawsuits, find federal grant funding and work with affected communities. Seattle’s first Link Light Rail Stations opened in 2009, our nearby Capitol Hill station in 2016, and work is underway on Northgate Link stations slated to open in 2021. While the fight to fund rail transit continues, Back on Track provides much needed context for understanding this issue. Bob Wodnik served as Sound Transit’s communications specialist from 1999-2017. His columns and reporting have appeared in The Everett Herald and The Aberdeen Daily World. He appears in conversation with activist and former Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, author of Becoming a Citizen Activist.