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Sound Transit wants input about where future light rail routes should go

Sound Transit current and proposed light rail, train and bus service. - COURTESY GRAPHIC, Sound Transit
Sound Transit current and proposed light rail, train and bus service.
— image credit: COURTESY GRAPHIC, Sound Transit

Link light rail might be extended in the next couple of decades from Kent to Tacoma as well as between Burien and Renton under a proposal by Sound Transit.

The Sound Transit Board on June 13 called for more public input on the future of mass transit as the agency published a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) in preparation for updating the regional transit Long-Range Plan to figure out where light rail should go once current projects are complete in 2023. An extension from SeaTac to Kent-Des Moines is expected to open in 2023.

The updated plan will serve as the blueprint for future regional mass transit measures after more than 30 miles of voter-approved light rail expansions are complete in 2023. The region's mobility and economy depend on moving more people on mass transit as its population climbs nearly a third by 2040.

Details on the Draft SEIS, including the full document, are available at soundtransit.org/longrangeplan.

The comment period for the Draft SEIS will extend through July 28. On July 8 Sound Transit will kick off a series of six public hearings and open houses around the region.

There are several methods to provide feedback.

• Email comments to LongRangePlan@soundtransit.org

• Attend a hearing: Complete a comment form or provide verbal testimony at a public open house/hearing

• Mail comments to Sound Transit, Attn: Karin Ertl, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104

• Take an online survey at soundtransit.org/longrangeplan

All of the below hearings and open houses will be held from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. with a public hearing at 6 p.m., except for the July 10 daytime meeting in Seattle. Questions can be directed to (206) 903-7000 or LongRangePlan@soundtransit.org.

• Redmond - Tuesday, July 8

Redmond Marriott, 7401 164th Ave N.E.

• Tacoma - Thursday, July 10

Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, 1500 Broadway

• Seattle - Tuesday, July 15

Museum of History and Industry, 860 Terry Ave N.

• Federal Way - Wednesday, July 16

Truman High School, 31455 28th Ave S.

• Everett - Thursday, July 17

Everett Station, 3201 Smith Ave.

• DAYTIME: Seattle - Thurs, July 10

Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St.

Noon - 2:00 p.m. with public hearing at 12:30 p.m.

Last fall when Sound Transit kicked off the update process more than 12,000 residents provided input on regional transit priorities and what possible changes Sound Transit should study. Those comments helped shape the Draft SEIS. After considering additional comments and preparing a Final SEIS, the Sound Transit Board plans to update the Long-Range Plan in December.

The agency is on schedule to complete a 50-mile regional light rail system by 2023.

2016: Service opens north to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington, and south to South 200th Street in SeaTac. The University Link project will open six to nine months ahead of schedule and is approximately $150 million under budget.

2021: Service opens between the University of Washington and Northgate

2023: Service opens east to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond's Overlake area; north to Lynnwood; and south to Kent/Des Moines

These funded expansions and rising demand are forecasted to increase Sound Transit's weekday ridership from 100,000 today to approximately 350,000 in 2030.

The Sound Transit Board will decide whether and when to initiate a ballot measure for further expansions. The majority of existing taxes are committed through the 2030s for operating current services and building the extensions that are now underway. Any significant new expansion before the 2030s will require new revenue sources. Updating the Long-Range Plan will help set the stage to explore future funding options.

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