Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

Sound Transit Wants To Expand Light Rail To West Seattle And Ballard

Sound Transit's Capitol Hill Station, prior to opening, 25 January 2016.
Flickr Photo/Don Wilson (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Sound Transit's Capitol Hill Station, prior to opening, 25 January 2016.

Light rail ridership has hit all-time highs since two new stations opened in Seattle on Saturday. On the heels of that success, Sound Transit revealed its newest proposal Thursday.

It would expand the light-rail system to 108 miles total — but take decades to get there.

The long-awaited plan is called Sound Transit 3 (ST3) and would cost $50.1 billion overall.

"In this proposal, we go big," said King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine. He said ST3 is big because "the need is big, and anyone who has been stuck on our increasingly grid-locked roadways knows that. Commuters all over the three-county region don't just want light rail — although we heard that loud and clear —  they need light rail."

ST3 would be implemented over 25 years. Project highlights include:

  • Light rail through Redmond in 2028
  • Light rail from West Seattle to downtown in 2033
  • Light rail from downtown to Ballard by 2038 (that would come with a brand new transit tunnel through downtown Seattle)
  • Light rail from Lynnwood to Everett, and Bellevue to Issaquah in 2041

(See the Sound Transit summary here.)

[asset-images[{"caption": "", "fid": "125115", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201603/transit.JPG", "attribution": "Credit Sound Transit"}]]Some regional leaders, like Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, raised an eyebrow at the timeline.

"We are finally doing something about two of the areas that are at capacity and choked: West Seattle and Ballard," Murray said. "The timelines give me pause, but it is important that we make those commitments."

Snohomish County leaders, including the county executive, also voiced concern about the long timeline. In a statement, Executive Dave Somers wrote that they're concerned it will take 25 years to bring light-rail to Everett, when the county is expected to have 200,000 more people within 20 years.

ST3 is expected to be on the fall ballot. If approved, taxes would go up. The average household would pay about $400 a year for it.

A public comment period runs March 29 to April 29.