Are you ready for ST3? Project evaluation begins in earnest 4 weeks from Friday, when the ST Board will begin reviewing updated project analysis while beginning to look at financial models and overall package size options. Back in May, the initial project list caused considerable alarm (and a record 529 comments) among our readership for not including a grade-separated option to Ballard among other flaws, prompting a quick rebuttal from ST’s Ric Ilgenfritz that there was plenty of room in the process to advocate for quality projects.
So we’ll be watching intently as the board begins its deliberations, looking for hints as to what’s on and off the table, and what has or hasn’t been negotiated behind the scenes. The basic frame for ST3 remains, namely that the Snohomish subarea will likely set the pace for the package at large, as a tax rate that funds both Paine Field and Everett would considerably scale up the package and stretch it to its financial limits or beyond. A smaller package that meets Snohomish’s desires is also possible, albeit only through a politically toxic large-scale transferring of funds between subareas. With voter approval of Move Seattle and Community Transit’s Prop 1 – and with ‘the spine’ as perhaps the only sacrosanct shared value among boardmembers – a smaller incremental package seems less likely than it did just a few months ago.
At ST’s sleepy and sparsely attended Executive Committee meeting yesterday, staff presented the templates for project evaluation that the board (and then the public) will see beginning December 4th (below). As you can see, a binary yes/no on the regional spine is the first criterion, followed by metrics you’d expect such as cost and ridership. There does seem to be an expanded emphasis on bike and pedestrian access, and it’s encouraging that projects will be evaluated with this in mind from the outset. Stay tuned!