Sound Transit Board hears strong public interest in ST3 measure

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Unprecedented support for expanding mass transit during June-July comment period 

The Sound Transit Board today discussed an unprecedented volume of public input and support received during the first round of public involvement to shape a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure. 

On June 4 the Board kicked off public comment on a draft list of projects proposed to be studied as candidates for the ST3 measure. Nearly 25,000 people took an online survey, doubling the response rate for last year’s survey. 

Details on the public input can be found at soundtransit.3.org, an interactive website for the ballot measure that saw more than 54,000 unique page views during the comment period. The site offers an up-close look at the projects that are proposed to be studied for the November 2016 ballot measure.

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.

Results of the non-scientific survey reflected strong support for expanding regional transit services, with 93 percent of the self-selected respondents voicing support. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the Draft Priority Projects List was a good list of projects to study, while approximately 5,000 people responded to an open-ended question seeking input on other potential projects to study. Next month the Sound Transit Board will discuss potential updates to the list.

Public input reflected strong continuing support for earlier discussed 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.

This fall and winter studies of the identified projects will support further narrowing by the Board to shape a draft ST3 measure for public input in early 2016.

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.

The Sound Transit 3 measure 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.

The Sound Transit Board’s work to shape the ST3 measure follows its 2014 actions to update the regional transit Long-Range Plan (LRP), which identifies the projects that can be considered for ST3 and subsequent ballot measures. Last summer approximately 12,000 survey responses helped shape decisions on updating the LRP.

Information on the latest public input that can be found at soundtransit.3.org includes a summary memo and detailed results from the survey. The website’s document archive contains large documents with verbatim comments that were provided in writing and responses to the survey’s question on other potential projects to study.

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.