In Seattle, Wash., the Sound Transit Board approved a $1.1 billion 2013 budget that moves light-rail expansions forward, while positioning the regional transit system to carry more than 28 million riders next year.
“2013 will be another year of progress,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “The double-digit increase in ridership we have seen on our trains and buses proves the importance of the work we have underway to extend light rail to the north, south and east.”
The budget outlines four major themes for the coming year: Deliver capital projects on time and within budget; increase ridership; reduce capital and operating costs and maintain nimble, efficient business processes.
In 2013, the agency will break ground on an expedited extension of light rail south from the airport to South 200th Street under a design-build contract. The project, which will open in 2016, will offer South King County increased light-rail access, including a 700-stall parking garage and up to 400 interim surface spaces, while planning for extending further south moves forward. A total of $86.7 million in work is planned for 2013.
Other major light rail capital and planning investments in 2013 include:
• $166 million to continue construction of the extension from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington
• $83.8 million for Northgate Link Extension design and construction
• $91.9 for East Link final design
• $72 million for design-build work to extend light rail from Sea-Tac Airport to South 200th Street
• $8.1 million for ongoing environmental review and public involvement to identify a route southward from South 200th Street to Highline, Kent/Des Moines and Federal Way
• $10.4 million for ongoing environmental review and public involvement to identify a route for the Lynnwood Link Extension from Northgate to Lynnwood
• $55 million to fund the city of Seattle’s ongoing construction of the First Hill Streetcar connector linking that community with Seattle’s Capitol Hill to International District/Chinatown Station
The budget also includes $9.7 million to begin the next phase of high-capacity transit planning, subject to board discussion early next year, including technical work necessary to update the agency’s Long-Range Plan by examining corridors for potential transit expansions.
In 2013 Sound Transit will continue the ongoing process of realigning the agency’s plans for advancing voter-approved Sound Transit 2 expansions with current revenue forecasts, which have been hit hard by the national recession. Tax revenues through 2023 are now expected to be 30 percent lower than anticipated in 2008. The 2013 budget process identified additional long-term cost reductions and Sound Transit will continue seeking further efficiencies in its capital program in the coming years.