Board identifies candidate projects for Sound Transit 3 measure

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Studies of candidate projects will help shape draft ballot measure; more public involvement coming early next year

Following extensive input from the public and local governments across the region, the Sound Transit Board yesterday identified the projects that will be studied as potential candidates for a November 2016 Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.

Results of studies completed during the coming months will help the Board decide which of the projects should be included in a draft ballot measure for more public input early next year. The candidate projects are listed on the soundtransit3.org website, where an interactive map will be updated by Monday.

Sound Transit 3 will respond to the strong support across the region for additional mass transit expansions as the region’s population grows by an estimated 1 million residents through 2040. The projected growth is equivalent to adding the current combined populations of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.

In June and July Sound Transit received thousands of written comments and survey responses on which projects from the regional transit Long-Range Plan represent the highest priorities. A total of 1,025 people submitted written comments at meetings across the region and by email and mail, and more than 70 local governments and organizations sent comment letters. The nearly 25,000 people who took a non-scientific online survey more than doubled the response to 2014 public involvement that guided Board actions to update the Long-Range Plan. 

Public input reflected strong continuing support for priorities including but not limited to extensions of light rail spine to Everett, Tacoma and downtown Redmond; light rail extensions to Seattle’s Ballard and West Seattle areas; bus rapid transit on I-405; and an array of other potential investments including additional light rail extensions and improvements to ST Express bus and Sounder commuter rail services and facilities.

Each of the identified candidate projects will be studied to generate estimates of ridership, capital operating and maintenance costs; travel times and reliability; potential for transit-oriented development; and other factors including benefits, needs and potential risks. 

The Sound Transit District is home to more than 40 percent of Washington’s population, more than 70 percent of its economic activity and 97 percent of its congestion. High-capacity transit investments are the best way — and in many cases the only way — to significantly expand transportation capacity in the state’s most congested corridors.

Over the past 14 years Sound Transit has developed a strong track record delivering mass transit investments. The University Link light rail extension, with new stations on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and at Husky Stadium, is on track to open in early 2016, ahead of schedule and approximately $150 million under budget. In 2016 Sound Transit is also on track for a potential early opening its extension to Angle Lake, one stop further south from the airport.

In 2021 light rail service is scheduled to open to Northgate. By 2023 Sound Transit is on track to extend service further north to Lynnwood, south to Kent/Des Moines and east to Redmond’s Overlake area. The extensions are expected to increase overall weekday ridership to more than 350,000 by 2030.