Light rail riders, here is what you’ll be fighting for: ST3 plan approved for ballot

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

West Seattle by 2030. Ballard by 2035. The updated — and modestly sped up — proposal for Sound Transit 3 was approved by the agency’s board Thursday afternoon. Prepare for a fight as the $54 billion plan goes to the ballot in November.

CHS wrote about the initial ST3 proposal when it was released in March with a package to build 62 miles of light rail lines north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond and Issaquah, plus the highly anticipated lines to West Seattle and Ballard, and a second downtown transit tunnel.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 8.34.39 PMThe package approved Thursday includes a slightly accelerated timeline and $4 billion more in costs. It will also lay the groundwork for Sound Transit to better manage parking at its stations and, inspired by the process around Capitol Hill Station, make more of its surplus property available for affordable housing. The agency says the plan will “quintuple Sound Transit ridership” to between 561,000 and 695,000 daily riders in 2040.

Transit advocates are stoked. But they’ll have a battle to fight convincing the region’s voters to create an annual $400 in property, sales and car tax burden for the “average household.” King County Executive Dow Constantine has called this fall’s vote “the most important decision our generation will be asked to make.”

Capitol Hill Station, meanwhile, is part of booming light rail ridership since the spring debut of the U-Link extension from downtown. And even before 2030, there are more miles of rail to come. Sometime next year, ground will break in the Central District for Judkins Park Station, part of the the fully-funded and almost completely designed East Link light rail line to connect Bellevue, Redmond, and Seattle across the I-90 bridge by 2023.

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