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Sound Transit to study transit options from Federal Way to Tacoma

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on May 26, 2011 at 4:34 pm with 10 Comments »
May 26, 2011 6:47 pm

Sound Transit’s board decided today to study whether there are less costly options that could extend light rail to Federal Way sooner than projected.

Board members were sympathetic to concerns voiced by Federal Way leaders over Sound Transit’s projections that light rail to Federal Way will be delayed from 2023 until 2034 at the earliest.

“The good news for Federal Way is I think we’re going to get there,” said board member and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. “I’m not exactly sure when.”

Sound Transit officials aren’t even sure for now how long the new alternatives analysis study will take. The board decided to study transit alternatives – including light rail and bus service – all the way to the Tacoma Dome.

Studying alternatives to Federal Way – including elevated light rail along Interstate 5 instead of state Route 99 – could take a year, said Sound Transit planner David Beal.

Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest said he appreciated that the board heard the concerns of those who live in Federal Way and Northeast Tacoma. But Priest said he’ll be looking down the road for Sound Transit to take action, not just study.

“The devil is in the details,” Priest said.

Priest and Federal Way City Council members Jeanne Burbidge and Linda Kochmar politely but firmly voiced their concerns to the board today about Sound Transit’s projected delay in extending light rail to South 272nd Street, Federal Way’s northern boundary.

Priest described the delay as a “broken promise” to Federal Way’ workers while more well-to-do areas get light rail sooner.

“The rich get richer while the working class gets the shaft,” Priest said.

Three years ago, the Federal Way council lobbied successfully to have the extension included in the $17.9 billion measure for mass transit expansion that voters approved in November 2008.

The 2008 measure raised the sales tax by 0.5 percent to expand light rail north to Lynnwood, east to Redmond and south to Federal Way’s northern boundary at South 272nd Street by 2023.

Federal Way City Council members passed a resolution Tuesday strongly opposing Sound Transit’s proposed delay of the extension to Federal Way to 2034 or as late as 2040. The resolution said the city is reviewing its legal options to enforce the 2008 measure. Those options include suing Sound Transit.

The $600 million extension from Highline Community College to South 272nd Street is the only proposed cut from light-rail projects that were scheduled to be finished by 2023.

The delay is due to falling revenue projections. Overall, Sound Transit is grappling with a $3.9 billion shortfall – or 25 percent due to declining tax revenues.

The revenue problems are especially acute for the South King County subarea. South King’s revenue lags behind the other subareas. Its projects required borrowing more money than in the other four subareas of the three-county system.

Also, South King County is projected to have the second-highest percentage shortfall in tax revenue from 2009 to 2023.

Transit system policy requires each of the five subareas to pay the cost of projects for their areas.

Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. tree_guy says:

    Welcome to the world of prevailing wage projects, so expensive that most people reading these comments will never live long enough to see them completed. And it goes without saying that a project which can never be completed can never have it’s sales tax funding terminated.

    Voters, enjoy your RTA!

  2. TacomaRick says:

    study? That equals $$$$$$$$$$$$$

  3. TacomaFan1 says:

    We don’t need another blankety blank study. Studies cost money that could be invested into completing these long-overdue projects (as do all the lawsuits that people in Bellevue are filing to prevent Sound Transit from building tracks).

    Sound Transit, please hear this message loud and clear: people in Pierce and South King Counties have driven large numbers of votes and huge amounts of money your way in order to get this project developed between Tacoma and the airport. You have not operated in good faith with us. Keep using up all our money exclusively for the benefit of Seattle and Bellevue residents — who don’t even appreciate what you’re giving them — and even the most liberal among us will rise in opposition to your taxing authority.

  4. Patches_Pal says:

    Meanwhile ST builds gold plated tunnels under Capital Hill and argues with Bellevue about which of two expensive choices is the mostl likey to be used by the rich who never commute on the bus anyway.

  5. TheMASO says:

    Now we will see how long it takes McCarthy and Fey to take a firm stand for Pierce county and Tacoma!!! From what I’ve heard so far I don’t like the odds!!!

  6. “Study” another means to allow further delay and increased costs….. nice pacifier trick ST…hopefully Federal Way goes ahead with researching their options.. to include legal ones!

  7. Tacomalover says:

    Sub Area Equity People…those gold plated tunnels under Capital Hill is money that came from that sub area, NOT south King or Pierce County! Come one, lets be educated before you comment.

    South King County Sub Are is just sucking at their revenue. Read before you comment.

  8. rockrabbit says:

    We need to make sure that Pierce County doesn’t loan S. King County $ for a link that may never come to Tacoma — I sympathize with Federal Way’s situation, but any alliance between F. Way and Tacoma needs to result in real benefits for T-Town — not just hope that the Central Link might possibly get here someday. Might be better to focus instead on making our in-city transit system the best it can be.

  9. mojjonation says:

    Anyone with any common sense knows that if Sound Transit is involved, it will be about as effiecient at doing something as Pierce Transit. Instead of doing a study to see if it is better to run tracks next to a freeway instead of Pac Hwy, do a study to find out if anyone in any transportation management seat is actually earning their pay or doing an efficient job. You can fire everyone at Pierce Transit and replace them with any monkey off the street and pay them in bananas and get the same amount of work done. Is it the same for Sound Transit? How long has the road project in front of Federal Way High School been going on? It seems like a lot longer than what it should. Maybe the new motto for all of King County could be “As inefficient and ineffective as we want to be”.

  10. Ahhh but ST finds funds for projects like this

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