Thursday Sound Transit’s capital committee endorsed the I-5 light rail alignment for the North corridor transit project. The 3% engineering study completed last month showed when comparing the I-5 alignment to the SR-99 alignment, the I-5 alignment was quicker, cheaper and had more ridership. Next week, the full board will vote to move forward with the single alignment.
|Travel time (segment end-to-end)||14 mins||18 mins|
|Travel time savings||4.6 million||3.8 million|
|Cost||$1.4~$1.6 billion||$2~$2.3 billion|
|Annual Operating Costs||$11 million||$14.6 million|
More below the fold.
In addition to the numeric metrics, the I-5 alignment had significantly more community support, as well as significantly less opposition, mostly because of the construction impacts of putting the light rail line through a heavily-trafficked commercial corridor. In the SR-99 alignment’s favor was the potential for transit oriented development along that segment. However, regional growth centers (as identified by the PSRC’s Vision 2040 program) that the line will serve – Northgate and Lynnwood – fare better in the I-5 alignment. Bad marks against the I-5 alignment are the highway concerns with WSDOT and the construction along wetlands.
The next step for the North Corridor project is for the competition of the 30% engineering phase, where station location, parking considerations and grading decisions will be evaluated. This work will begin next month and be completed sometime in 2013. The line will open in 2023.
This routing has long been assumed, but the alternatives analysis is required by the Federal Transit Administration to apply for grants, which does strike me as more than a bit inefficient, though certainly not Sound Transit’s fault. Thursday Sound Transit received the FTA’s “letter of concurrence” which enabled the committee to go forward with the vote. One interesting note about this project is that it will likely score extremely well on FTA criteria for a New Starts grant. Compared to East Link – which is not going for a New Starts grant – the North Corridor project has the same number of riders for half the cost.