Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel
The Citizen Oversight Panel (COP) appointed to monitor Sound Transit's performance released its Mid-Year 2003 report today. The tenor of the report is a mixed one of optimism tempered with ongoing unresolved issues. In his letter to the Sound Transit Board, COP Chair Arlington W. (Art) Carter Jr. said the journey toward achievement of a regional high-capacity transportation plan is slower, more costly and more fraught with difficulties than the citizens of this region could have anticipated.
Steps to achieving the Sound Move plan this period included.
- In Tacoma, Link construction was completed and light rail will begin service on August 22.
- In Seattle, Central Link received a vote of confidence with the issuance of a positive report from the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General.
- A breakthrough agreement in principle was achieved with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad that will allow Sounder commuter rail to begin demonstration service to Everett.
However, the long-awaited federal funding authorization for the Initial Segment of Central Link is still in limbo. The Panel expressed its concern that despite the good efforts of regional leaders, delays continue to plague the Initial Segment.
The Panel received the news of the BNSF agreement for Sounder service with very mixed feelings. The cost to bring commuter rail north is $100+ million more expensive than was estimated, and service will be less frequent.
Finally, COP noted that the regional plan is now over 8 years old and in need of a comprehensive update. The Citizen Oversight Panel urged the Board to provide an updated Sound Move with current projects, budgets and timelines, and to initiate Phase II planning soon.
The Citizen Oversight Panel, an independent body comprised of 15 volunteer members from throughout the Sound Transit district, has been meeting for six and a half years. This is its thirteenth report. The full report including information on the Panel's members, its evaluation process, and its findings is attached. The report will join COP's previous reports on the web at www.soundtransit.org.
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.