Thursday, February 12, 2015

The other side of the Sound Transit to Olympia coin: Olympia is an Island, leave us alone

The brainstorming about getting passenger rail into Olympia is alive!

Olympia's best blog took their crack earlier and the Seattle Transit blog did their's yesterday.  All smart people all say, sure it could happen. But, there are obstacles. Sure, that makes sense. It hasn't happened, so obviously there are reasons why it hasn't.

I was going to reserve this post for a exploration into the past of the old Lacey to Olympia line that was ripped up and turned into a sidewalk. Alright, a glorified sidewalk.

But, after all this discussion, I think we need to bring up another topic. Should Olympia be connected by rail to Seattle?

You're going to say: Of Course! State Capitol Right??

And, I'm going to respond with a selfish rejoinder. Well, its not like anyone is going to steal the state capitol from us anytime soon. So, why make it easier for people to get here?

Right now Olympia's economy is supported by a steady flow of tax money into our community to support fairly well paying and stable state jobs. That's not going anywhere. Jobs come and go, but overall, state work is pretty stable.

We're also on the far southern edge of Pugetopolis. So, if overgrowth is going to happen, it'll come from the north. But, in a way, we're buffered from that because back 100 years ago Pierce County stole more than half of the Nisqually Reservation and gave it to the Army. Joint Base Lewis McCord sits out there like a massive empty breakwater against King/Pierce County growth.

Eventually Sparkland will reach around through Roy and Yelm and connect with Lacey. But, for the time being, we're safe.

Connecting us to Seattle via convenient rail is just one more way to make Olympia a bedroom community living in the shadow of Seattle and King County.

And, in at least one part of my brain, more people living in Olympia and commuting up to Seattle for work is not a good thing.

Now, using that old Lacey to Olympia rail line that we turned into a glorified sidewalk for light-rail, a way to just get around town? Thats a great idea?

Maybe just using the old spur of that lost rail line as a Sound Transit alternative to Centennial Station. I don't know, maybe? Better than downtown Olympia, I suppose.


TVDinner said...

You know, that " glorified sidewalk" carries an awful lot of commuters between Lacey and Olympia each day. And they're using a mode of transportation that is zero emissions. Lamenting the Herculean effort that went into transitioning that rail to a trail at this point seems, well, a little churlish, frankly.

Emmett said...

That entire post is churlish. Proposing that we maintain a separation from our neighbors while using their tax revenue to maintain our economy is pretty mean spirited. And grumpy.

One neat thing I didn't mention anywhere, but I grew up just up the ravine from the old spur line that I'm obsessing over. I remember hiking through the woods and finding trains staged there. We used to hide behind trees and pretend to ambush them. Fun stuff.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the author. We would not be well served by being connected to King County. We would quickly become a bedroom community. We have our own brand of crazy...they can keep theirs up north