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Board unanimously approves ST3 project list with faster timelines

6/2/2016

The Sound Transit Board today unanimously approved changes to the Sound Transit 3 plan that will speed up Sound Transit 3 light rail extensions by two to five years and add projects in Renton, Kirkland and North Seattle. 

“The public sent us a clear message: We want light rail and other high-capacity mass transit, and we want it as soon as possible. That’s exactly what the Sound Transit Board approved today,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We’ll continue to work with cities, communities and other partners to deliver rail and bus rapid transit even sooner.”

The final ST3 projects, selected following extensive public involvement, would build a total of 62 new miles of light rail with 37 new stations. The Board’s action directs the projects to be the basis for the final documents the Board will consider on June 23.

Light rail to Everett via Paine Field would open five years earlier than proposed in the ST3 Draft Plan that was released for public review in March. Extensions to downtown Redmond and Federal Way would be completed four years sooner, while the Ballard, West Seattle and Tacoma extensions would open three years sooner. During the delivery of projects the agency will work with partners to further improve timelines where feasible. 

Other changes include:

  • Seattle’s light rail extension to Ballard would be completely grade separated on 15th Avenue.
  • A new light rail line between Issaquah and Bellevue would extend further to reach south Kirkland. 
  • New facilities in Kirkland and Renton would be added to the Bus Rapid Transit on I-405 between Lynnwood and Burien that is planned to be among the first-completed projects.
  • A new station at Northeast 130th Street in Seattle would move from provisional to fully funded status.
  • Expanded Sounder commuter rail capital investments in South King County and Pierce County would increase system capacity, enhance service, and extend the line to Tillicum and DuPont.

Find details of the changes at soundtransit3.org.

The improved timelines and added projects are primarily enabled by refinements including adjusting the financing plan for the ST3 measure to modestly increase the issuance of bonds, improving the region’s financial capacity by approximately 8 percent or $4 billion.  The plan’s total $54 billion in investments would be funded in part through new voter-approved sales, MVET and property taxes. The improved timelines and added projects would not change the measure’s estimated additional $200 annual or $17 monthly costs for a typical adult in the Sound Transit District. 

Over the course of the public input period on the ST3 Draft Plan that wrapped up in May, Sound Transit heard strong continuing support for mass transit extensions. An online survey generated nearly 35,000 responses and more than 1,200 people attended seven open houses held across the region. The agency received a total of 2,320 written comments from individuals and more than 90 letters from jurisdictions and organizations. By far the most frequent theme was interest in completing projects more quickly.

In a phone survey that Sound Transit conducted last month, 65 percent of respondents stated they strongly (30 percent) or somewhat (36 percent) supported the ST3 draft package in a question that described the associated tax increases. Following a question describing the plan’s previously proposed project timelines, 59 percent of respondents strongly (24 percent) or somewhat (35 percent) supported the draft package. The soundtransit3.org website includes a presentation summarizing the public input and phone survey.