After a four-hour long board meeting (which was live-blogged below), the Sound Transit Board has adopted the fifteen year plan by a vote of 16-2. King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauerand King County Executive Ron Sims voted against the plan. The board then voted unanimously to send the plan to the ballot this November.

Some small changes were made to the draft plan before the vote took place. The head of the Washington State Department of Transportation, Paula Hammond, successfully fought for an amendment that front-loads the bus service instead of rolling it out in phases, which is a smart idea.

The adopted plan includes light rail to Bellevue to the east, Northgate to the north, and Highline Community College by 2020. Light rail will extend to the Overlake Transit Center a year later, and to Federal Way (South) and Lynnwood (North) two years after that. This is in addition to light rail stations currently being built on Capitol Hill and at the University of Washington.

A 25% percent expansion of ST Express bus service across the region provides immediate relief.

Sounder service will dramatically increase (65%) under the new plan, with platforms being extended for additional cars and new trainsets being purchased. Station access funds will fund additional parking, more feeder bus service, and/or pedistrian/bike access improvements to crowded Sounder stations as well as Park and Rides across Puget Sound.

A streetcar will connect Capitol Hill, First Hill, the International District. Matching funds will be provided for a Tacoma Link extension as well as partnership funds for a BSNF East project.

The plan is financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase in addition to extending current Sound Move taxes. After construction is done and much of the bonds are repaid, the tax will phase out if voters choose not to extend the system in the future.

I’m voting Yes to the ST2 plan because it provides short-term relief and long-term solutions. How are you planning to vote?

18 Replies to “ST2 Fifteen Year Plan to go to Ballot”

  1. Anyone know if they’ll add a second Seattle stop at Vine Street along Alaskan Way to service north downtown commuters? Seems like a no-brainer.

      1. A “Broad Street” station is in the plan, yes, along with Ballard. They are “maybes”, but Nickels is pushing for them.

        It’s not a no-brainer, as much as it seems like it should be. Where Sounder stops at King Street is the focal point of all our downtown buses, basically, and will be the connection to Link. There are far fewer people working near a north downtown stop, and there’s limited transit access to it.

      2. Ben – There are a lot of high tech companies north of Pike that would be serviced by a stop near Vine, where there is plenty of room for platforms. The trains need only make a 1 minute stop there to save many commuters from having to go all the way down to King Street, and then bus back up to locations walking distance from a Vine Street stop. It would save them 30 minutes each way for sure. It is crazy that there is only one Seattle stop for Sounder trains that head north. The Vine Street stop wouldn’t need to disrupt bus lines to be useful to a ton of people, but anything running along Alaskan Way or Western could service people who want to make a connection.

        It is definitely doable.

  2. (thats highline cc) but this is great news. and i’m glad that paula hammond came on board. i just hope that, now that it’s headed to the ballot, ron sims will do the right thing and support it.

    1. Thanks for the correct!

      I wouldn’t look forward to Sims coming on board, but I wouldn’t expect a vigorous campaign from him against it either. Maybe an op-ed or two, but I can’t imagine him partnering with the opposition campaign in any way.

  3. I wish the plan included some sort of pedestrian tunnel to link the Sounder platforms to the bus tunnel platforms..

    1. Unfortunately, that would be quite difficult. At the platforms, both the King Street and International District Stations are pretty close to the same level. With the BNSF mains running between the two stations, either an overpass or an underpass is required. There’s already a bridge over the mains (albeit, not 4th Avenue).

      The only other option would be to run a tunnel to the Pioneer Square Station, but that’s a good 1/4 mile or so.

      Or put in a new station where the tunnels cross… ;-)

      Wikipedia: Great Northern Tunnel

      Google Map: DSTT and Great Northern Tunnel crossing

  4. Why does it take unitl 2020 to get to Northgate? Seems like a long time when the old plan had it there in 2016.

    1. Slight correction, last year’s plan got to Northgate by 2018. I’m not sure why the two-year difference is there.

    2. Hardly any engineering has been done on that segment of line yet. Its for a good reason too. ST doesn’t have the funding to undertake the multi-million dollar, 3 to 4 year design process of the North Link until the voters say yes. A good portion of the line has to be bored between the UW Station and where it exits the tunnel around 85th. TBMing takes time. We’ve found some interesting geological challenges in the alignment. And the challenges of tunneling under a University. Some of the stuff being done for that is pretty cool.

      The Link was suppose to be up and running by now. You can thank MANY parties involved for the delays.

  5. Does anyone know the specifics of the East Link portion of this plan? Will they tunnel through DT Bellevue to make underground stations, will it be at-grade, or elevated?

    Or, are these details still up for debate? I personally would like to see them tunnel through dt Bellevue, (if possible), but I realize the significant expenses involved in doing that.

    1. The exact East Link alignment hasn’t been determined, but word on the street is that a tunnel through Bellevue is the most likely option.

      I think a tunnel would be best, as well. If you close your eyes between the Chinatown station and the Bellevue Transit Center, you might think you’re on a subway system! :)

      1. According to this Times article:

        One big question is the light-rail route in downtown Bellevue. The plan assumes an elevated or surface route. But if a tunnel is chosen, that would add $500 million and eat up the money to reach Overlake. According to Ric Ilgenfritz, Sound Transit planning and policy director, a tunnel would need city funds, private-sector money, or a downtown taxing district.

        The state Expert Review Panel this week urged the agency to reach “closure on this issue” before voters make their decision.

  6. I’m thrilled to see that this is heading to the ballot…. but now the real battle begins. The public debate taking place on transportation is being dictated by the Times and PI. They are a myopic bunch of old codgers, shaking their canes and shouting “no new taxes!”

    We need to shift this debate from Seattle’s traditional “how does this benefit me right now?” to something like “what does our region need for the future?”

    Our presence in the media is going to be critical… I encourage this blog’s readers to flood the opinion pages and call in shows to bring responsibility and sanity back to this debate.

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