Sunday, October 15, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Northwest Voices

Mass Transit

Editor, The Times:

If you had $1 billion, how would you spend it?

On the one hand, you could build a third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. This is a project that may be tied up in environmental litigation for years to come.

On the other hand, you could sidestep this contentious issue, aikido fashion, and spend the same $1 billion to build a high-speed monorail/maglev train to run the 40 miles between Seattle, Sea-Tac, Tacoma and McChord Air Force Base.

On the one hand, you have a brute-force solution to a transportation problem. On the other, and for the same money, you have an elegant solution to capacity problems and a good start to the statewide high-speed system we need from Vancouver, B.C., to Portland, and someday, to Spokane.

Much of Sea-Tac traffic is short hauls, and these could be eliminated, thus extending the number of years these two airports will be able to meet growing demand.

This high-speed system would share stations at a few points with the medium-speed monorail-maglev system Sound Transit should be building around Lake Washington and Puget Sound.

Project yourself forward to 2050. You get on the high-speed maglev system in Bellingham or Port-land and you get off an hour later at McChord for your flight. Unless we have a war, this is something that will certainly come to pass.

James Robert Deal


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