Graffiti taggers hit new Sound Transit train in Tukwila
A new Sound Transit train was vandalized this weekend while on display facing Interstate 5 in Tukwila.
Seattle Times transportation reporter
Sound Transit parked a new train next to Interstate 5 at Tukwila, where the public would see the agency's progress toward next year's grand opening of the light-rail system.
Trouble is, the site was also a prime showcase site for taggers.
The vandalism was reported to transit officials early Saturday. The train is to be cleaned by today, spokeswoman Linda Robson said.
It has been parked on an elevated guideway near the southbound freeway lanes -- just north of exits to Southcenter and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It's a conspicuous place where 131,000 vehicles pass each weekday in the southbound direction alone.
A passer-by, Mike Muller of Tacoma, said he phoned Sound Transit several days ago to complain that the train looked like a prime target, and was assured the agency has 24-hour security.
He worried that taxpayers would be stuck with a cleanup bill, he said.
But Sound Transit invested up front in paint-removal equipment and training, so its own crews will clean the damage at "minimal" cost, Robson said. "It's one of the things you plan for when you operate an urban transit system."
Transit-board members wanted the display next to I-5 to encourage support for light rail, said Pete von Reichbauer, R-Federal Way, a transit-board and Metropolitan King County Council member. A sales-tax boost to expand the system might hit the ballot this fall.
Other trains are stored behind a steel fence at the system's maintenance base in Seattle's Sodo District.
This one was pushed through the Beacon Hill tunnel and the Rainier Valley to Tukwila three weeks ago, to test clearances along the line. Robson said it is being kept on the line's south end for summer testing, as ongoing tunnel work would block a nightly return to Sodo. Full-power testing is planned in the Rainier Valley in August.
Officials figured the elevated site would be difficult to attack, and that drivers on I-5 would see and report any mischief, Robson said. Managers will reassess whether to keep it there, she said.
Light rail is scheduled to begin from downtown to Tukwila next July, and to the airport by the end of 2009.
The damage and its costs will be assessed Monday, Robson said. One of Seattle's South Lake Union streetcars needed five hours of scrubbing after a smaller tagging attack Feb. 18 inside its maintenance base.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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