$54 billion: What's inside Sound Transit 3?

KING 5's Jake Whittenberg reports.

On election day, voters will be considering an unprecedented $54 billion ask from Sound Transit to expand light rail and bus service throughout the Puget Sound Region.

The plan promises 62 more miles of light rail, extended Sounder service, more bus-rapid transit and park-and-ride spaces.

Rail improvements would link cities like Everett, Tacoma and Issaquah. A route to Tacoma would be complete by 2030. A West Seattle to downtown rail line would also be complete by 2030. A Ballard - West Seattle route would be finished by 2035. Passengers would be able to take rail from Lynnwood to Everett by 2036, and to Kirkland and Issaquah by 2041.

Sound Transit’s estimated cost for ST3 is $326 in taxes per median household next year.

That is made up of tax hikes in three areas; a property tax increase of $25 per year for every $100,000 of assessed home value, a sales tax increase of .50 cents on a $100 purchase and a car tab tax which amounts to an $80 increase for every $10,000 your vehicle is worth.

Opponents say the plan is not worth the investment right now.

In 2008, voters approved ST2 which connects light rail from Seattle to Lynnwood and Federal Way. That work will be finished by 2023, and it's already paid for.

"Now the ask is for $54 billion and it's just out at the fringes and edges of the system," said Doug MacDonald, former WSDOT secretary. MacDonald who opposes the plan, says that although the ST3 plan would take cars off the road, he points out that the full cost benefits would not be seen until 2071 according to Sound Transit's own estimates.

But in areas like Snohomish County, where an estimated 155,000 people a day commute into Seattle, supporters of ST3 want to be fully connected to the rest of the region.

"We've got to make those investments now," said Patrick Pierce, President and CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

"It's not going to get cheaper if we wait and kick the can down the road," Pierce said.

Copyright 2016 KING


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