Reactions to last week's 5-2 Tukwila City Council vote against Sound Transit's proposed light rail alignment ["Sound Transit Says NO!" Josh Feit, June 20] varied dramatically.

Anti-Sound Transit warriors at Sane Transit saw it as D-Day, spreading rumors that the vote caused the feds to pull a critical $500 million grant. (Not true.)

Sound Transit itself was calm, explaining that the Tukwila vote wouldn't really affect the agency's plans to run its $2.1 billion, 14-mile starter line through Tukwila. (Technically true.)

Meanwhile, the June 18 Seattle Times headline blared, "Fatal Blow." The P-I echoed, "A Blow to Sound Transit." Oh, and the sleepy news desk over at Seattle Weekly apparently didn't even notice the vote.

Anyway, somewhere between the sensational headlines, the delirious Sound Transit detractors, and the calm assurances of Sound Transit spokespeople, there is some actual fallout from Tukwila's vote.

First of all, in order for Sound Transit to pursue its strategy (beginning light rail work before securing the $500 million federal funding to pay for that work), Sound Transit needs a special federal waiver known as a letter of "no prejudice." The Tukwila vote could hurt Sound Transit's chance to get that wavier. "We got a decision from Tukwila," says Federal Transit Administration spokesperson Rich Krochalis. "We were waiting on that. Now we can analyze [Sound Transit's] request."

Second, in deciding whether or not to give Sound Transit a $500 million grant (20 percent of Sound Transit's capital costs for the initial segment), the feds take their cues from local elected officials. Given that Tukwila is one of the two cities impacted by Sound Transit's current plan, the Tukwila vote is a harsh toke.

Third, if Tukwila had approved the plan, Sound Transit would have gotten a rubber stamp to secure all the site permits it needs, pronto. Now the process will be slowed down dramatically because Sound Transit will have to go through lots of cumbersome permitting hoops before beginning construction. Tukwila cannot reject the permits (Sound Transit gets preference because of its public agency status), but folks in Tukwila won't be seeing rail construction anytime soon.

Finally, the vote pissed off Sound Transit true believer Mayor Greg Nickels. Nickels' hit man, Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis, reportedly called Tukwila lobbyist Jamie Durkan after the vote and told Durkan Nickels was going to crush him.

josh@thestranger.com

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