Following 17 months of discussions and engagement with jurisdictions and stakeholders, the Sound Transit Board today adopted a realignment plan that will serve as a framework for delivering critical transit expansions across the region as rapidly as possible.
The steep rise in real estate and construction costs in the region in combination with advancing environmental review and project designs have driven up cost estimates for future transit expansions, contributing to a $6.5 billion affordability gap for delivering projects on earlier schedules.
While projects already in construction are not affected, the adopted realignment plan will guide the delivery dates for the next generation of voter-approved projects.
“In the next three years Sound Transit will nearly triple the length of our light rail system from 22 to 62 miles,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and City of University Place Councilmember Kent Keel. “The realignment plan will guide our work to expedite the next waves of projects, including reaching Tacoma, Everett, West Seattle and Ballard and delivering bus rapid transit and Sounder expansions. These projects are critical for keeping people moving in the face of our population growth and for protecting our economy and environment. To succeed, we will need expanded collaboration at the local, state and national levels.”
The adopted plan transparently reflects estimated affordable delivery dates for each project under current revenue and cost projections. However, for priority projects that face delays under current financial projections, the realignment plan also establishes more ambitious completion targets that are based on plans to intensively pursue additional financial capacity and cost reductions.
“The adopted realignment plan shows what is achievable under our current financial projections, but also sets targets for delivering projects sooner by closing the affordability gap that is identified for each project,” Keel said. “I am grateful for the leadership of System Expansion Committee Chair Claudia Balducci for working with me in developing this hybrid approach.”
Despite the affordability gap, current financial projections are sufficient for delivering many projects with minimal delays.
Through securing additional funding and reducing costs, the realignment plan reflects the Board’s commitment to seek to eliminate financially necessitated delays altogether.
Details of the realignment plan, including affordable and target schedules for each project, are available at www.soundtransit.org/realignment.