Last week, Sound Transit updated its draft regional transit Long-Range Plan (click on map) which includes the possible extension of the light rail service to Ballard. This update sets the stage to begin work in 2015 on shaping a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.
“Our Long-Range Plan creates the vision for the high-capacity transit needed to increase mobility in the Puget Sound region,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Over the coming year, this plan will help us determine the projects to present to voters to move regional transit forward.”
Information on the updated Long-Range Plan (LRP) is available online. Over 24,000 comments and survey responses received from across the region helped shape a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that informed the Board’s actions to update the plan.
The current Long-Range Plan points to transit expansions that will be possible through future ballot measures after the current voter-approved projects are complete.
According to Sound Transit, high-capacity transit investments are the best way to significantly expand transportation capacity in Washington’s most congested corridors as our region’s population grows a projected 30 percent by 2040.
“This action gives our citizens hope that they will have an alternative to being stuck in gridlock traffic. It takes us a step closer to connecting our region, from Everett to Tacoma to Redmond and points in-between, and connecting people to where they work and play,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Everett City Council Member Paul Roberts.
“We will work with residents and cities throughout our region to meet the high demand for more regional transit. In order to do this, the Legislature must grant additional local funding authority for voter consideration,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland.
In 2015 and 2016 Sound Transit will host events to engage with local residents and jurisdictions to come up with a ballot measure for voter consideration as soon as November 2016.
Sound Transit is set to seek the required local revenue authority during the 2015 Legislative Session that starts in January.
A survey from June this year highlights transportation and traffic as being the region’s greatest problem, according to voters. The survey revealed that 85 percent of voters supported further transit expansions in the years ahead.
Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan was first established in 1996 and updated for the first time in 2005. The plan emphasizes the overall vision of a light rail “spine” between Everett and Tacoma and all the way to downtown Redmond.
As the plan moves forward, Sound Transit plans to continue working with other transit agencies to develop efficient transit options and drive the State dollar further.
In September 2014 an initial Transit Integration Report documented the efforts that are underway, with initial work focusing on Sound Transit and King County Metro services.
In terms of services to open in the “near” future, the University Link light rail extension, with new stations on Capitol Hill and at Husky Stadium, is set to open in early 2016, six to nine months early and nearly $150 million under budget.
Further down the track, in 2021, the light rail service is scheduled to extend to Northgate.
The My Ballard team will keep readers up to date with new information on Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan as it moves forward.