Arrow-right Camera


Driver Turned Activist Named To Monorail Board Seattle Names Committee Members To Study Around-Town Transportation

Thu., Feb. 19, 1998

A 12-person committee that will decide whether to build a 40-mile monorail gives Seattle residents a chance to focus on getting around town at a time when other organizations are taking a big picture, regional view of transportation, some members say.

“Seattle has not done any transportation planning for itself,” said Lois North, a former state legislator, Metro Council and King County Council member.

“We have a blank page here,” said Walt Crowley, a local civic historian also named to the board. Crowley said a monorail could add a new component - aimed at moving Seattle residents around the city - as part of a “multi-tiered transportation system.”

Crowley, a monorail supporter, said last year’s vote shows Seattle residents “want a faster, better, more efficient public transit system.”

The committee members were named Tuesday by the City Council, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell and Gov. Gary Locke.

Among them was Dick Falkenbury, who led the monorail initiative campaign that Seattle voters passed last November.

The vote called for a new public agency, to be known as the Elevated Transportation Company board, to explore whether Seattle’s one-mile, World’s Fair monorail can grow into a citywide transportation system.

North said she thinks Seattle residents have become frustrated with the city’s traffic, especially the lack of east-west routes.

But she said she is not necessarily sold on overhead trains.

While an expanded monorail deserves a look, North said, it also must fit in with planning by the Regional Transit Authority.

Falkenbury, the part-time taxi and tourbus driver who worked for three years to get the initiative on the ballot, did not wait around yesterday to learn the names of his fellow board members.

Averse to public meetings and ceremonies, he said he was going skiing.

Falkenbury said he initially was reluctant to serve on the board, thinking he might be more effective as an outside critic. In addition, he said, he envisioned board members as pillar-of-the-community types who would be comfortable walking into corporate boardrooms to solicit private money for the project.

He changed his mind, he said, because monorail supporters and King County Democrats asked him to serve.

In addition to Falkenbury and Crowley, Schell appointed Marie Groark, a management consultant with Price Waterhouse, and Charles Hamilton, owner of a computer-consulting firm.

The City Council named Thomas Carr, an attorney; Richard Collins, a project manager at Boeing; Neil Heiman, executive director of the University District Chamber of Commerce; and Kristina Hill, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington.

Locke appointed Gwendolyn Lee, business manager for Local 46 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Claude Forward, retired Boeing employee and Southeast Seattle community leader; Yvonne Sanchez, a community-services officer with the state Department of Social and Health Services who has worked on the state’s Commute Trip Reduction Act; and North, a prominent Republican.

Click here to comment on this story »