The Sound Transit (ST) Board is discussing a new 15-year option for expanding mass transit. The new option includes further light-rail extensions and a series of Sounder commuter rail and ST Express regional bus-service expansions between 2009 and 2023.
“This package would achieve a 53-mile regional light-rail system by 2023 while focusing on moving quickly to launch major commuter rail and regional express bus expansions,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “It responds to the loud and clear call we’ve heard for major mass-transit expansions, while maintaining faster completion dates and a lower price tag than last year’s package.”
The 15-year plan represents a new alternative for a mass-transit ballot measure, alongside 12- and 20-year options identified in April. The new plan responds to public input received in May and June that included suggestions to extend light rail further north and south than proposed in the 12-year options.
Details of this latest plan include:
• Northward expansion of light rail from the University of Washington to Northgate by 2020, with a further extension to Lynnwood by 2023.
• Eastward expansion of light rail to Bellevue and onward to Overlake Transit Center in Redmond by 2021.
• Southward expansion of light rail to Highline Community College by 2020 and Federal Way’s South 272nd Street area by 2023.
• Partnerships for expanded transit: Partnership funding for Eastside passenger rail on existing freight tracks, as well as for potential extensions of Tacoma Link light rail and projects in Bothell and Burien.
The 15-year transit-only package would carry capital costs that are 50 percent lower than last year’s Proposition 1 package that included both roads and transit projects. Those costs are 22 percent lower than the 20-year transit package that was part of Proposition 1. Funding would come from a 0.5-percent increase of the local sales tax, or 5 cents on a $10 purchase. The approximately $69 annual cost of the increase for each adult is around the cost of a single tank of gas. More information on the 15-year and other options is available at www.soundtransit.org.
The Sound Transit Board will decide later this month whether to proceed with a ballot measure in 2008 or wait until 2010.
Expansion of Link light rail between downtown and the University of Washington is slated to begin this year and be completed in 2016. University Link is projected to increase the regional light-rail system’s ridership to more than 114,000 a day by the year 2030.