By Mahlon Meyer
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
In a determined attempt to reverse a recent decision by Sound Transit (ST) to place new stations outside the Chinatown International District (CID), a neighborhood advocacy group won the support of the 37th Legislative District Democrats.
Transit Equity for All (TEA) lobbied the democratic body to support a station built on Fourth Avenue, rather than to the North and South of the CID.
A co-founder of TEA, Betty Lau, who initiated the fight to preempt ST from building its new transit hub on Fifth Avenue, in the heart of the district, wrote the resolution, which was passed last night.
“The 37th LD Democrats fully endorse the Chinatown International District Fourth Avenue station location at Union Station, which provides the greatest connectivity for the region, as well as social and racial justice for the CID, an historically marginalized district of color that includes the last surviving Chinatown in the State of Washington,” said the resolution.
It was not immediately clear how much leverage the endorsement would have over key powerbrokers on ST’s board, such as Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Supporters of a Fourth Avenue alternative, which is theoretically still on the table for ST, contend that fears about direct construction and traffic overrunning—and possibly destroying— the district are based on “fear not facts,” according to Lau.
“The real issue is that ‘no one’ understands how the city and county are going to provide guarantees on how they will protect our neighborhoods from the traffic and construction impacts created by [ST’s new line] and [ST board] decisions. The mayor’s office needs to bring everyone to the table and mitigate these important issues. By identifying the issues and providing guarantees on how they will protect our neighborhoods, there will be progress to help our neighborhoods,” said Brien Chow, co-founder of TEA.
TEA also contends that the current selected placement of stations—called the “North South option”—denies key transit connections for CID residents, creating the need for longer walks and transfers.
Despite the selection of the “North South” option in March, there is still a long haul ahead.
ST expects a new Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to be published in late 2024.
Its formulation will “rely and build upon” the existing DEIS (from 2022) and “all previous scoping comments, public outreach and feedback, and environmental analysis,” according to ST.
Another public comment period will follow the publication of this new Draft EIS.
Mahlon can be reached at email@example.com.