Find of the Month

May 2015 - Rapid Mass Transit

Municipal News

The April 6, 1957, edition of Municipal News looked into the question of whether plans for the soon-to-be-constructed Seattle-Tacoma-Everett Freeway should include provisions for a future mass transit system. The newsletter, published by the Municipal League, reported that the two questions needing to be considered were "whether the Seattle area will need a rapid mass transit system and whether the freeway is a logical route for such a system."

The article noted that "inclusion of the requested provisions will save the residents of the Seattle metropolitan area many millions of dollars in acquisition and construction costs when a rapid transit system is built." The Municipal League highlighted the need for integrated planning between transit and highways, possibly including utilities as well.

The two major obstacles to adding mass transit to the plan were money and time. The article noted that while up to 90% of the $16 million price tag could be paid for with federal highway funds, "that would, of course, reduce the total of the federal funds that would be available for other projects in the state." The extra planning time involved was also seen as a negative, given that the freeway project had already been delayed for several years.

In the end, mass transit was not built in coordination with Interstate 5. Currently, light rail is expected to reach Lynnwood in 2023, 66 years after this discussion took place.