End of the Line

Nickels’ mission may be over, but “accomplished” is a stretch.

Greg Nickels has sat through 378 Sound Transit board meetings. And at last Thursday's—the final one of the year, and Nickels' farewell as the agency's chair—everyone seemed especially deferential, politely smiling when the outgoing Seattle mayor declared "mission accomplished," noting last year's passage of a Sound Transit 2 funding package by Puget Sound voters, the light rail system's ribbon-cutting this summer, and the airport link opening Dec. 19.Nickels quickly moved through his opening "I'm gonna miss you guys" remarks and on to the business of deciding what options to consider for extending light rail to Bellevue. But a declaration of "mission accomplished" may be a bit off for Nickels, as it was for our 43rd president who made the phrase famous. Sound Transit 2 is supposed to send light rail into Snohomish County, Federal Way, and Bellevue—but the plan already has a projected $3.1 billion deficit over the next 15 years, despite the fact that the package passed just one year ago and is still in the development stage.While most people at the meeting mentioned of Nickels' many years of dedicated service, one malcontent couldn't resist getting in another shot at the mayor. Disbarred attorney and former state legislator Will Knedlik of Kirkland accused Nickels and the board of spending Sound Transit's first 15 years building "Taj Mahal" light-rail stations in Seattle while the 'burbs get "plywood and Nickelsville standards."It might be hard to sustain the "Seattle always wins" complaint, however, given that the new Sound Transit Board Chair is Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, and that much of last week's meeting was devoted to whether to consider an elevated-train option for Bellevue.

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