With corridor studies for rail from Downtown Seattle to Ballard and extension of Link south to Federal Way both moving forward next year, it looks likely that the Sound Transit board will move to accelerate planning work necessary for development of a Sound Transit 3 (or ST3) package. Yesterday, much of the board met at a workshop to answer three main questions:
- How aggressively should ST push forward planning work such as corridor studies and the Long Range Plan update?
- Should ST continue to focus on the light rail “spine” as their primary goal?
- Should ST engage state level transportation funding and authorization issues?
On the first question, there was a general desire among the board members in attendance for a more aggressive schedule than what ST is currently pursuing. Three planning processes were presented to the board:
- Status Quo – would continue the status quo and take 8-12 years
- Corridor Study – would initiate accelerated corridor planning followed by the Long Range Plan update taking a total of 6-10 years
- Jump Start – would incorporate corridor studies in the Long Range Plan cutting the total planning timeline to 4 years
Many board members felt that the more aggressive planning schedule, the Jump Start, was preferable – including WSDOT chair Paula Hammond, who said she’d like to see ST3 as soon as possible so it can be integrated with WSDOT’s planning. Some board members had reservations about shooting for a 2016 ST3 package and felt that a 2020 package was more realistic. Not only would 2016 be a very tight planning window, but it would also mean that voters in the region would be asked to vote ST3 before Lynnwood Link and East Link construction were clearly visible. The tight planning window could also complicate the process of getting additional funding authority from the state (more on that later). [Read more...]