Sound Transit approves 2015 budget, plans for future

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Sound-Transit-logoThe Sound Transit Board has approved a $1.2 billion 2015 budget that continues major light rail expansions, anticipates carrying more than 32 million riders and prepares for a future Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.

“Sound Transit is poised to see record ridership growth in 2015, while staying on track for the early, under-budget completion of light rail to the University of Washington and rollout of the next rail expansion plan,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Major light rail project funding in the 2015 budget includes:

  • $16.3 million for the Lynnwood Link as the project finishes preliminary engineering and moves into final design
  • $121 million to complete station construction, systems installation and testing for the University Link project opening in early 2016
  • $208 million for Northgate Link construction
  • $143 million for East Link pre-construction work

The budget also includes $19.7 million to replace 22 ST Express buses, including five new double-decker buses to be used on Snohomish County – Seattle routes and overhauling seven Sounder locomotive engines.

The Sound Transit Board also updated the regional transit Long-Range Plan, setting the stage to begin work in 2015 on shaping a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure. One of the amendments approved adding Paine Field as a Light Rail corridor from Lynnwood to Everett.

“Our Long-Range Plan creates the vision for the high-capacity transit needed to increase mobility in the Puget Sound region,” Constantine said. “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. More than 24,000 comments and survey responses from across the region helped shape a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that informed the Board’s actions to update the plan. The LRP identifies regional transit expansions that can be constructed through future ballot measures after current voter-approved projects are complete.

“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 engage with local residents and jurisdictions to shape a ballot measure for voter consideration as soon as November 2016. Sound Transit will seek the required local revenue authority during the 2015 Legislative Session that gets underway in January.

A June 2014 survey reflects that voters see transportation and traffic as the region’s greatest problem, with 85 percent supporting further transit expansions in the years ahead. Action by the Legislature to give local voters options to expand service is supported by 75 percent of voters.

While working with the Legislature to secure funding options the agency will provide extensive public involvement opportunities through which the region’s commuters and local jurisdictions will shape the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.

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. These extensions, which total more than 30 miles, are projected to increase Sound Transit’s weekday ridership to more than 350,000 in 2030.

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