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Voters in Seattle OK Monorail Proposal

November 22, 2002|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — Voters here gave the go-ahead for a monorail that would streak quietly across the city's skyline.

The $1.7-billion, 14-mile expansion of Seattle's landmark monorail was approved by city residents by a mere 877 votes out of about 189,000 cast, according to election day totals made official Wednesday.

"I think it's going to put Seattle back on the map as the pioneer city that we are," said Patrick Kylen, one of the idea's chief supporters.

At the same time, voters in Washington state defeated a proposed, 9-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax increase that would have raised $7.7 billion for transportation projects, mainly highways.

The money for the monorail project will come from a 1.4% motor vehicle excise tax.

Fourteen miles of elevated track will be built through the city, expanding on the monorail that has glided a single mile over the city since the 1962 World's Fair. Running between the Space Needle and downtown, it's mainly a tourist attraction.

Supporters of the project say it will be a pollution-free alternative that will enable people to glide to work, unaffected by stoplights and traffic jams.

But opponents warned of budget overruns and a marred skyline and said that ultimately it may do little to ease the headaches of commuting.

The city has yet to pick a design, a designer or a builder but hopes to have a good portion of the line up and running by 2007.

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