Tomorrow, we get a big win. Sound Transit doesn’t want to see Issaquah, Redmond, or Everett left behind by Seattle going it alone, so they’re responding to the threat of our ballot measure by doing a lot of our work for us! Their board is expected to unanimously pass a budget amendment (PDF) to spend $9.76 million in 2013 to get them on track for more. I met with staff, and they explained what this will fund:
First, it will combine a bunch of study work into likely three major contracts for corridor studies. This likely means one from downtown to West Seattle, Burien and Renton; one from Ballard to UW, Kirkland and Redmond combined with options for connecting Issaquah; and finally, one from the currently funded Lynnwood terminus of light rail all the way to Everett.
From each study, different alternatives will be evaluated for cost, ridership, and other factors. Then Sound Transit will use this data, along with extensive public outreach, to identify the best projects to be added by the board to their Long Range Plan. Law requires that the Board choose projects from their long range plan for any ballot measure – so a mixture of these will become the light rail backbone of Sound Transit 3.
With this budget amendment, the board puts the pedal to the metal, keeping their pipeline full for about the next two years, and helps open up the option of a regional vote as early as 2016, rather than 2020 or even later. It’s a big win for transit advocates; grassroots organizing gets results!
To get to a vote, though, there’s much more work to do. Voters have already approved all the revenue that the legislature provided for Sound Transit, so before they can develop Sound Transit 3 and send it to voters, they need the authority to ask. This week’s vote will help us show legislators that we have the support of our local elected officials – we want more transit, and we want it yesterday.