Link light rail along Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Rainier Valley runs in the middle of the street. This causes several problems:
1) Pedestrians and cyclists get killed and injured by trains when crossing the street, contrary to Seattle's Vision Zero policy.
2) Train service is regularly disrupted along the entire Link line, costing us time and exacerbating traffic. Bus shuttles lack the capacity of trains and are therefore inadequate substitutes. With no track redundancy, the effects of these disruptions will only spiral throughout the system as it expands.
3) Trains are limited to 35 mph along MLK since they run in the street, instead of running at full speed as they do in tunnels and on elevated segments.
4) Link can't use driverless trains, which cost less to operate and run much more frequently all day like in Vancouver.
5) Link has turned MLK into a barrier. Pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers up and down Rainier Valley are cut off by the limited turns and crossings allowed on the street. Elevated tracks would restore our crossings and turns, making MLK a normal urban arterial again.
The solution to all these problems is to invest properly in safe, reliable, fast transit by elevating the light rail tracks through Rainier Valley. Since we're spending $54 billion to expand the rail network, let's do it right instead of cutting corners.
Jon Morgan is a Rainier Valley resident and longtime car-free transit enthusiast.