When most Seattleites saw the draft ST3 plan that Sound Transit released on Thursday, they were taken aback. 22 years to get to Ballard with a long section at-grade? 15 years to get to West Seattle? None of the other extensions we need? Seattleites were expecting more out of a $50 Billion dollar regional plan. Upon further review of the draft ST3 plan, however, Seattle Subway believes that we’re really not that far away from a plan Seattleites can get behind.
Here is how to fix it:
1. Expedite the construction of light rail in Seattle.
The biggest criticism of the proposed package that we’ve heard from Seattle voters and our supporters is the glacial pace of construction to Ballard and West Seattle. Sound Transit must do everything it can to expedite the construction of light rail in Seattle, including the elimination of projects that do not contribute the same benefits to mobility in Seattle. The line to Ballard is the single best project in the package, by every possible metric (Ridership per dollar? Check. Potential for Transit Oriented Development? Check. Potential for federal funding? Check.). Seattle voters will not support a package unless they will live to ride the rail.
2. Make Ballard to Downtown fully grade separated.
Once light rail is constructed at-grade, our city will be stuck with a flawed system, forever. Delays from our existing stretch of at-grade rail ripple throughout the system and limit the future capacity of rail through the Rainier Valley. All new light rail must be constructed with grade separation. This line, in particular, needs to be built to the highest quality possible. The high range ridership estimate for Ballard to downtown is 145,000 riders per day, which would mean:
-Ballard to Downtown’s daily ridership will be greater than the entire population of Bellevue.
-Ballard to Downtown’s daily ridership will be equivalent to the entire Portland MAX system.
3. Provide complete funding of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the extensions from Ballard to UW and from West Seattle to Burien, and add both lines as “provisional projects” if additional funding becomes available.
Continue reading “How to Fix ST3 so Seattle Will Vote For It”