A draft list of projects due to be part of the $50 billion Sound Transit 3 Plan was released Thursday and though there is no light rail scheduled to make its way into our section of the county, the plan does include money for an I-405 Bus Rapid Transit project that appears to include Mayor Denis Law’s proposal to move the Transit Center to Rainier Avenue South and Grady Way.
The project is included in the “early deliverables” section of a presentation available online with a completion date of 2019-2024.
A public comment period on the plan begins Tuesday, March 29.
According to a press release from Sound Transit, The ST3 Plan rwould deliver a steady succession of major light rail and other regional transit investments over the coming 25 years. It would complete the long-envisioned regional transit spine to Everett, Tacoma and downtown Redmond, while also adding new lines to the system reaching West Seattle, South Lake Union, Ballard and a new Eastside line linking downtown Bellevue, Eastgate and Issaquah.
The plan also emphasizes Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service in the I-405, SR 518 and SR 522 corridors that would dramatically improve the speed, reliability and frequency of buses, with service up to every few minutes in peak hours.
“Sound Transit 3 delivers on the promise of a truly regional mass transit system for generations to come,” Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a press release. “The public input we receive will help us shape the best final plan that will be on the November ballot.”
By adding 58 miles of light rail and 39 stations, ST3 would establish a truly regional, 108-mile system that connects cities from Everett to Tacoma and from Seattle to Issaquah, providing 525,000 people congestion-free service each day.
The Sound Transit Board’s meeting was followed by a news conference at which members emphasized the importance of future transit expansions. The draft plan responds to strong region-wide support for additional mass transit expansions as the region’s population grows by an estimated million residents through 2040. The projected growth is equivalent to adding the current combined populations of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett.
The Tuesday launch of the public involvement period will include an online survey at soundtransit3.org and the announcement of a series of public meetings around the region. A map of the draft plan is available at the website, along with information spanning the benefits of the plan and the more than two-year process leading up to yesterday’s Board action.
By the time the public input period launches on Tuesday the map will be updated with interactive features allowing visitors to explore the draft plan’s details.
The $50 billion in investments would be funded through new voter-approved sales, MVET and property taxes. The estimated additional annual and monthly costs of the new taxes for a typical adult in the Sound Transit District are the same: approximately $200 annually or $17 a month.
Additional information on funding for ST3 can be found at http://soundtransit3.org/document-library
The projects would be delivered in steady succession over the plan’s 25-year period. The timeline reflects the significant time requirements for building major infrastructure projects and the scale of the light rail extensions and capital investments, which are more than double Sound Transit’s first two phases. The major investments require revenues collected over the full 25-year period as well as bond sales and federal funding.
Investments in the ST3 plan include:
Sounder Commuter Rail
One of the great success stories of Sound Move and ST2 is the Sounder Commuter Rail system. The Draft Plan contains a capital improvement program that will enable Sounder to continue to grow to meet expected demand in the south end.
First and foremost, the system would extend further south to DuPont, providing a new transit option near Joint Base Lewis-McChord and moving the southern terminus closer to the state Capitol. Other improvements would include increasing train capacity, enhancing service and improving customer access to stations as ridership growth continues.
Access to Sounder service in the north corridor would expand through increased parking.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
The above-described BRT investments would utilize dedicated lanes, roadway and station improvements in key locations and off-board fare payment that enables passengers to quickly board and exit through all doors. These new BRT services will connect at transit hubs with Sound Transit’s light rail and commuter rail systems.
Sound Transit’s regional bus system, which led the nation in number of Commuter Bus boardings for 2015, will continue to build ridership in key long-distance corridors where light rail is planned for the future. The Draft Plan funds approximately 600,000 more annual hours of ST Express bus service during the construction of future light rail lines.
Early Deliverables Program
The ST3 Draft Plan recognizes that mobility challenges are real today, and require responses right away. The plan includes an Early Deliverables Program that focuses on establishing relief in key corridors while longer-term projects are planned and constructed.
Projects include investments enabling proposed operation of existing ST Express bus routes and partner agency routes on the shoulders of I-5, I-405, SR 18 and SR 167, providing riders with improved speeds and reliability. Capital investments would enable improved Rapid Ride bus service along King County’s C and D lines serving West Seattle and Ballard and improved bus service along Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue.
The Early Deliverables Program would expedite all of the ST3 Plan’s BRT investments to be operational within eight years, along with parking expansions at the Edmonds and Mukilteo Sounder stations.
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 near Husky Stadium, opened last week six months ahead of schedule and approximately $200 million under budget. Later this year Sound Transit is also on track to open 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.