Sound Transit unveiled plans to kick off what the company calls "one of the most ambitious public transit capital investment programs in the nation's history."
By the end of 2017, Sound Transit will be planning, designing or building 24 train and bus projects in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.
“Today we’re pushing the ‘go’ button on critical infrastructure expansions to serve the people of our region,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “These projects will help keep commuters, freight, and our economy moving as our population grows and our congestion worsens. It’s imperative we deliver the projects voters have approved with an eye towards saving money and being as efficient as possible.”
To meet the expedited timelines in the final Sound Transit 3 package, the agency will start projects sooner and collaborate with cities, stakeholders and private citizens earlier and more intensively. The agency will focus on identifying preferred routes and station locations earlier, streamlining the number of alternatives studied, acquiring real estate sooner, and developing early permitting plans with partner agencies.
Upcoming transit expansions will dramatically increase ridership, as previewed by the more than 80 percent growth in Link light-rail ridership since Sound Transit opened its University of Washington and Angle Lake extensions last year. By 2040, overall weekday system ridership is projected to grow from 147,000 today to up to 695,000. To prepare, internal changes will increase the agency’s focus on customers’ experience, including everything from facility designs to technologies to signage.
Last week, Sound Transit executed the latest step toward moving forward with further expansions, issuing a request for qualifications that will help identify the consultant that later this year will support kicking off planning for light rail between West Seattle, Downtown Seattle and Ballard. This summer and fall, the agency will also solicit bids to begin planning for the Federal Way-Tacoma light-rail extension, bus rapid transit projects on I-405 and SR 522, and Sounder south line capital improvements. Light rail will move closer to Snohomish County next year as Sound Transit begins construction of Lynnwood Link and construction of East Link light rail will continue to intensify.
Sound Transit explains that with the November 2016 adoption of Sound Transit 3, the people of the Central Puget Sound region took a historic action to continue building the true mass transit system that has been talked about for decades. ST3 is equal in scope and timeline to the first two phases (Sound Move and Sound Transit 2) combined. It will establish a 116-mile light-rail network with more than 80 stations serving 16 cities, growing five-fold beyond its current size, at a scale comparable to the largest systems in the country.
By 2021, Sound Transit will complete light rail to the U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. In 2023 trains will reach Mercer Island, Bellevue, Overlake/Redmond, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. From there, Sound Transit will keep building until the agency has completed the 116-mile system. Next up will be getting light rail to Federal Way and downtown Redmond in 2024. From there, continuing expansions will focus on Tacoma, West Seattle, Ballard, Everett, South Kirkland and Issaquah.
Improvements are also coming to Sounder commuter rail service, which will serve 13 cities when planned extensions to Tillicum and DuPont are complete. Following the establishment of bus rapid transit along the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington the agency’s ST Express system will serve 26 cities.