Instead of just building a transit system around the geographic nuisances, the Citizen's Alternative Plan fundamentally changes the transit landscape -- literally. By draining Lake Washington, not only can a rational transportation system be designed, but vast stretches of valuable urban real estate will be created. This new real estate can be used for roadways, parks, low income housing -- or sold to recoup the up-front costs of the project.
Projects like the Sound Transit and the Monorail always promise intangible benefits (e.g. pass them and someday things won't be as bad as they will be if you don't) with a huge upfront cost. It's this lack of hard results which will actually erode the political consensus that something needs to be done about Puget Sound's traffic gridlock, now rated as the second worst in the country. The Citizen's Alternative Regional Plan includes dramatic intangible benefits (how could the traffic be worse with hundreds of streets crossing where only the I5 and 520 brings used to float?)
But, more importantly, it offers a plethora of tangible benefits. Politicians will have new neighborhoods and voters to absorb, hundreds of streets and parks to name after themselves and their buddies. The addition of large new tracts of residential land will result in decreased housing costs in the region and increased availability. Combined with building a more rationally designed transportation infrastructure, the Plan will herald an unprecedented boom of economic activity.
We love the Monorail, the 60's World's Fair monorail that runs from Seattle Center to Westlake. It is pretty neat looking and we really loved the Simpsons episode where Springfield got a Monorail. We'll even go so far as to say that using recent Monorail breakdowns to cast aspersions on Monorails in general seems to us a bit like not buying a new car because that damn 1961 Chevy you've been hauling around town in all these years breaks down now and then.
But, face it: it's over. Sure, voters showed affection for the Monorail, but once it has a real price tag and an actual route attached to it, it was DOA.
So we say: love the Monorail -- but don't have a One Track Mind when it comes to solving the larger problem!
Initial costs for the Citizen's Alternative Regional Plan will be financed by a variety of sources. These include a more modest regional gas tax increase, but we don't want to kill the prospects because a bunch of SUV owners go into conniptions over a couple hundred extra bucks a year to feed their $35,000 gas-guzzlers. However, focus groups have shown it will be easy to make up the difference, through a series of SUV-oriented toll roads, which will be identified as "Super-Size Lanes Exclusively for SUV's". Applications to use these lanes will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis with 35% of applications arbitrarily denied, and use will require payment of a $2.400 annual membership fee. If civic duty can't bring these folks to pay their share, then elitism certainly will.
Instead of the traditional capital bonds often used by government, most of the remainder of the costs for the Plan will be achieved by maxing out KVI 570 AM's corporate VISA cards and efficiencies gained by processing all the parking meter change collected in the regional through those nifty Coinstar coin counting machines in grocery stores.
Once the project is underway, revenue from the sale of reclaimed resources and portions of the newly created real estate will be applied as payments to the KVI 570 AM VISA balance. Of course, if we do not recoup our debt, resulting in financial ruin to KVI AM, we'll feel a great deal of collective guilt.
Phase one costs include dynamiting of the Ballard Locks and ensuring soft landings for the I5 and 520 floating bridges. Later costs include building streets, sewers, parks, and public amenities. And, of course, we've factored in a couple hundred million for public employees and really nice office furniture.
Once this is done, revenues will support the building of rationally laid out light rail and other transit projects such as enhanced bus service.
After the Lake is drained, water which normally fills Lake Washington will be available for other uses. Some will be consumed by the residents of the new areas. Some, of course, will run off through other channels into the Sound. But a significant portion will be re-routed to Green Lake to solve chronic fresh water supply problems at that popular recreational site. While this will create some risk of flooding in the Green Lake area, actuarial projections set this risk as no higher than along the banks of the Mississippi River, an area that has been continuously inhabited for many decades and has spawned colorful literary and cultural traditions.
While the Citizens' Regional Alternative Plan was our original name, after the map was drawn the unfortunate resulting acronym was brought to our attention. In the end, we decided we'd rather CARP than CRAP.
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