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Puget Sound Transportation Projects

Seattle Monorail

Seattle Monorail Project Ends - Ben's Thoughts

Map of the planned Green Line


The Seattle Monorail Project is dead, for now. It was killed by Seattle voters in the November 2007 election. So Seattle has, for now, lost the ability to solve a lot of its transportation problems with the use of an innovative technology.

What could have been...

The residents of the City of Seattle have tried for years to develop a city-wide monorail system. Pretty much every idea has been based on "extending" the Seattle Center Monorail, as was planned after the 1962 World's Fair. When I was in school on Capitol Hill in the mid-90's I remember petitioners getting people to sign a petition. The plan at that point was a X. Image the map at the right with another leg from Rainier Beach (where the Legend box is) through Lake City (upper right corner), intersecting with the Green Line downtown. In fact it was on the ballot a couple times. Both times it won, but the first time it was just as a directive to the city to build the monorail. The city council ignored it. Instead they put their weight behind the Link light rail. The second time it passed again.

The initiative chartered a group to build the monorail along the alignment shown to the right. It was to be funded by motor vehicle taxes on Seattle residents. Like so many projects in the area it was and is a very good idea, but has encountered its share of problems. Revenues collected have been less than expected, primarily due to people registering cars outside the city, which isn't illegal under current state law. Part of this is because the taxes collected are so high. This in a state where the voters seem determined to never pay any automotive taxes

What this has meant is that the line, before any construction begins, is already looking at cutbacks. A single beam has been proposed in some cases. A few stations may be cut...especially downtown where some business are reluctant to give up room for them.

I think this system will be built, although I think it, like the Link, may end up being shortened. Hopefully a way will be found to build the full length, which should help those needing to get downtown from other parts of the city. Also, downtown stations will allow cross-connections with the Link to the airport, plus stations in the SODO area will allow connections with Sounder to Tacoma. In the future, connections with a 520 monorail or I-90 light rail could also be possible.

Interesting Facts: Back to Top

  • The original Seattle World's Fair Monorail is still in operation (but will be removed for this project); it was the first commercial monorail system in the US.

Future: Back to Top

Unknown at this time. Probably a dead project for now, but could come back in the future, even as a feeder line to Link/Sounder.

Links: Back to Top

Map: © SPMA