Seattle — Streetcar Plan Advances
Rail Transit Online, August 2008
A light rail and bus expansion plan now estimated to cost $17.9 billion will be placed before voters in three Seattle-area counties this November. The Sound Transit board of directors on July 24 unanimously voted to support the proposal, which will add 34 mi. (54.7 km) of LRT by 2023.
The money will finance LRT extensions to Lynnwood, north Federal Way and to the Overtake Transit Center in Redmond plus a $120-million streetcar line from Seattle's Chinatown/International District to First Hill and Capitol Hill. The expansion will be financed by a 0.5-percent increase in the local sales tax.
Board Chairman and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said the estimated annual cost to the average adult resident, $69, is equivalent to a tankful of gasoline. "Every time we pay at the pump we are fueling the status quo," Nichols told The Seattle Times. "This package allows us to break away and get out of our cars."
The schedule shows light rail reaching Northgate and Highline Community College by 2020, Redmond by 2021, and Lynnwood and Federal Way's South 272nd Street in 2023. BNSF has agreed to allow four additional Sounder commuter rail round trips from Pierce County to Seattle between
2011 and 2015 in exchange for $185 million in right-of-way upgrades, money that would come from the new tax.
The plan also provides funds to study future extensions from Lynnwood to Everett; the University District to downtown Seattle via Ballard; Burien to Renton; downtown Seattle to Burien via West Seattle; South Bellevue to Issaquah; and along the SR 520 corridor between Redmond, Kirkland and the University of Washington and further west into Seattle. Funds are also included for preliminary engineering and right-of-way acquisition for an LRT extension from Federal Way to Tacoma.