On Nov. 8, voters approved Sound Transit 3 (ST3), a ballot measure that provides $54 billion in funding to expand and improve transportation in the Seattle area. ST3 will add 62 miles of light rail, completing a 116-mile regional system.
“Our region has embraced a generational opportunity to move forward with a transit network to connect millions of people across three counties,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “After decades of waiting, we are ready to start building a light rail system that will grow our economy, improve our quality of life, and ensure access to jobs, education and all the Central Puget Sound has to offer.”
By 2021, Sound Transit will complete light rail to Roosevelt and Northgate and in 2023 trains will reach Mercer Island, Bellevue, Overlake, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. From there, Sound Transit will keep building until the agency has completed a 116-mile regional system. Next up will be getting light rail to Federal Way, downtown Redmond, Tacoma, West Seattle, Ballard, Everett, South Kirkland and Issaquah.
“Light rail will provide our workers and customers with fast and reliable transportation that will reach Boeing and the many other aerospace and advanced manufacturing companies that fuel our communities,” said Sound Transit Board Member and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “Connecting Everett with the region via light rail will create jobs, provide opportunities for transit-oriented communities and help to improve the quality of life of our residents as they travel throughout the Puget Sound.”
“This vote offers people in Pierce County alternatives to driving, greater transit options for the South Sound and JBLM and improved connectivity throughout the Puget Sound,” said Sound Transit Board Member and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “This is very important to our region’s economy as more people look for a dependable way to get to and from work and school. Local businesses and the Port of Tacoma also benefit when road space is freed up, increasing mobility for freight and delivery trucks.”
“The people in our region have made an historic commitment to a true regional mass transit network -– a network that connects our major job centers and residential communities with service that will be fast and reliable, every trip,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “I speak for hundreds of Sound Transit employees when I say that we’re greatly humbled by the responsibility placed on us. We are up to the task. We’re getting started today. We are committed to delivering these major investments within budget and on schedule and to working with local communities to move up completion dates whenever possible”
The agency has a running start on the Federal Way and downtown Redmond projects.
Light rail will reach Federal Way in 2024. Today, Sound Transit published the environmental impact statement that allows the agency to adopt the final route and move the project into design and construction.
Sound Transit will also reach downtown Redmond in 2024. This month the Board is set to approve the funding to move forward with a route that has already received federal approval.
Sound Transit will also start working on platform extensions that enable longer Sounder south line trains to serve 40 percent more riders, and will work with BNSF on options for running more trains each day. The measure’s passage also extends Sounder to Tillicum and DuPont. After adding Sounder parking in Puyallup and Sumner Sound Transit will move on to also expand parking in Edmonds and Mukilteo.
Sound Transit will establish bus rapid transit along the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington, providing faster and more reliable service that runs every 10 minutes in peak hours supported with new parking and expanded stations.
Meeting the accelerated dates included in the adopted ST3 plan, and beating them where possible, will mean a new way of doing business. It will require earlier, proactive engagement with project partners and stakeholder organizations. Sound Transit will work closely with local jurisdictions to find innovative and efficient means to secure permits and proceed through environmental reviews.
Building these investments will put thousands of people to work and take many thousands more out of traffic. Every few years as we open each extension it will improve our region’s mobility, our economy and our environment.