In a November 16 update to board members, Sound Transit Executive Director Joni Earl issued a response to a Stranger story about a study that warned of the danger in using light rail to cross floating bridges ["Covering Their Tracks," Pat Kearney, Nov 15]. In a written statement, Earl attacked The Stranger's story as "erroneous," and denied any problems. "Nowhere, in any memo, study or draft report is there any suggestion of such catastrophic failure," wrote Earl. Really? After Earl issued her comments, we uncovered the report ["Rail Doubt," Pat Kearney, Dec 6]. Again, here is what the report says: "Due to the motion and movement of the floating bridge, light rail track guideway vehicles were not recommended." Furthermore, "Fixed Track light rail and other forms of ATT (Alternative Transit Technology) requiring a rigid support structure will encounter safety problems...."

This raises serious questions. Was Earl lying to the board? Did she not read the report? Did her staff lie to her?

Because Sound Transit refuses to comment on this story or allow us access to Executive Director Earl, the true intentions behind her comments remain unclear. Maybe it's just semantics. In Earl's statement, she takes aim at one particular sentence. Our November 15 story says, "The study concludes that light rail is too dangerous and too risky to be used across the 520 and I-90 floating bridges. The wind, the waves, and constant motion could derail a light car, possibly sending it over the side of the bridge." Earl claims there is no "suggestion" of "catastrophic" failure in the report. As shown above, the authors of the report, engineering firm Bucher, Willis & Ratliff (BWR), felt light rail was a safety risk. Plain and simple. It's a legitimate deduction that if light rail derails on the bridge, there is nowhere for the train to go but off the track, and possibly off the bridge. So, according to the report, there absolutely is a "suggestion" of catastrophic failure.

Sound Transit seems to think it's a possibility. Their recent light rail car recommendation for I-90 includes safety guard rails for just such an emergency. In the meantime, to help settle the confusion, The Stranger is sending copies of the uncovered report to every Sound Transit board member, including Executive Director Joni Earl.