Thursday’s Sound Transit Board meeting didn’t have any Earth-shattering news, but it did feel a lot like summer school. Agency staff presented some updates on ongoing projects, but the board didn’t do much: too many elected officials cut class to move along the day’s most substantial agenda item.
Metro rolled out a new fare enforcement policy a few weeks ago. (Expect an in-depth look soon.) The transit and social justice activists who worked with Metro are excited about the Metro policy, which will reduce fines and hopefully prevent escalation.
The same coalition approached Sound Transit to make similar changes, but the agency is moving more slowly; on Thursday, the board approved a staff proposal to study fare enforcement policy and come up with recommendations.
Capitol Hill affordable housing
The board formalized ST staff’s laudable work on several affordable housing projects on Broadway, which we covered in depth here. The board approved the requisite land transfers with Seattle Central College and affordable housing developers.
Seattle Mayor and ST board member Jenny Durkan praised the projects, and said that the city would try to get the buildings open sooner by expediting permitting and construction.
Northgate Link construction update
The Northgate extension is humming along. ST staff said that construction is on schedule. Most of the major structural work on the stations is done, and the right of way is nearly ready for guideway system installation.
Northgate Link’s budget allocated about $223 million to handle contingencies and cost overruns. The board voted on Thursday to allocate $3.7 million from that pool to complete final design work.
Federal Way Link land transfers
After ST builds the Federal Way Link extension, the agency will have some leftover land. The agency needs to hold staging sites and the land under the future guideway during construction, but not after. When the project is finished, ST plans to transfer some of the surplus land to WSDOT, which will build an extension of SR 509.
The board was supposed to approve the baseline budget for the project on Thursday, but needed a supermajority vote to do it. However, the board didn’t have a the votes necessary for the supermajority, so the vote couldn’t go ahead. (The board did approve the land transfer.) Early in the meeting, the board stalled votes because a quorum of members was not present.
Claudia Balducci compounded the embarrassment by pointing out that the project’s baseline budget had not yet been studied by the ST Board’s capital committee.
“Because we’re not going to take action on this, can this go through capital committee like it should have in the first place?” Balducci said.
The board sent the land transfer back to committee, after a wisecrack by Durkan (who skipped the last board meeting):
“Who knew so much could be done by people not showing up?”
This post has been corrected. According to ST spokesperson Scott Thompson, the board approved the eventual land transfer, but not the Federal Way baseline budget. An earlier version of the post said that the land transfer was not approved.