Did Spokane Blow it on Light Rail Funding?

Image from Norfolk, VA light rail project

I think so. The economic stimulus package currently being considered by congress is heavy on public transit funds. According Jeff Sele at SRTC there are only 16 municipalities in the country with light rail projects in advanced development. All of them are likely to receive major federal money now–perhaps almost total federal funding. And Spokane will miss out because voters decided 2006 against doing further planning on our light rail project. The Spokesman Review has an article on light rail funding today, you can read it here. THe piece doesn’t ask hard questions though: did the S.T.A. board at the time try to deliberately sabotaged the vote? Why didn’t business and civic leaders come out stronger for light rail? How much construction funding did Spokane potentially forego?

For more perspective here’s an article from 2001 that talks about the importance of Spokane in the larger scheme of light rail. It’s shame we are farther along on light rail here. Transit oriented economic development is just what the city could use right now.

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