Sound Move - the ten-year regional transit system plan


The Original 1996 Sound Move Plan Continued

Electric Light Rail

The electric light rail component adds a new form of high-capacity transit for our region. The service is designed to connect Northgate, Roosevelt, the University District, Capitol Hill, First Hill, downtown Seattle, the Rainier Valley area and SeaTac (terminating at South 200th Street) - the state's highest employment areas with the highest transit ridership in the region.

Sound Move includes 25-miles of a starter light rail system with 26 stations within walking distance of major destinations as well as connections to local bus service. Some stations will include connections to regional express buses, commuter rail, the Monorail and the Waterfront Streetcar. The most significant investment required for the electric light-rail system - the downtown Seattle transit tunnel and its five stations - is already in place.

Recognizing the on-going siting and design process for a new ballpark and other potential sports complex improvements in the Kingdome area, the RTA will explore the possibility of providing special event electric light-rail service, including a potential light-rail spur serving the sports facilities if funding is available.

Sound Move also includes light-rail service connecting downtown Tacoma with the regional transit terminal near the Tacoma Dome where riders can connect with regional express services, commuter rail and Amtrak. Four stations will serve downtown Tacoma destinations.

The RTA has identified reliable funding sources for building the light-rail line between the University District and SeaTac (South 200th Street). The RTA expects to find, and will aggressively seek, additional funding sources to build the segment of the light-rail line between the University District and Northgate. If additional funds are not found, the University District to Northgate segment will not be built. If voters authorize additional capital programs after the ten-year system plan is otherwise in place, this segment will be the first to be built under the new program.

The electric light-rail line is a cost-effective way to serve the core of the regional system where transit ridership is the highest. This new transportation link provides a stepping stone for expansion into the next century (a two-way light-rail line can carry the same number of people as 12 freeway lanes).

The Northgate to SeaTac (South 200th Street) light-rail line will be built in three segments. The first segment will be a line south between downtown Seattle and the airport serving the Rainier Valley area. That part of the system will be built primarily on aerial structures and on the surface through southeast Seattle. The south light-rail line will include connections at the Boeing Access Road station to regional express buses and commuter rail. Between Boeing Access Road and SeaTac, the RTA will evaluate an alignment using State-Route 99 and an alternative route using Interurban Avenue to Southcenter.

The second segment will be built between downtown Seattle and the University District via a tunnel under First Hill, Capitol Hill and the Ship Canal. The engineering work for the north line will take longer to complete than the south line so construction of the north line will likely not begin until the south line is already under construction. The third segment of the light-rail line will be between the University District and Northgate, and will be built when construction funds have been identified and guaranteed.