Sound Transit Board to discuss impact of I-976 at Nov. 21 meeting

Kent, Federal Way light rail extension project could be affected

The Sound Transit Board plans to discuss the impact of the passage of Initiative 976 to limit vehicle tabs to $30 a year at its Thursday, Nov. 21 meeting.

“At the next meeting of the full Sound Transit Board on Nov. 21 we will begin the process of responding to I-976,” Sound Transit Board Chair and Redmond Mayor John Marchione said on the passage of the initiative in a Sound Transit news release. “The board will hear presentations from the agency’s finance staff as well as our general counsel. The board will consider Sound Transit’s obligations to taxpayers who want their motor vehicle excise taxes reduced, as well as how to realize voters’ earlier direction to dramatically expand high capacity transit throughout the Puget Sound region.”

As of Tuesday night, voters were approving the measure with 54 percent in favor of the limits. Sound Transit could lose some $20 billion in funding as vehicle tab fees supply a good portion of the agency’s revenue.

Voters approved the Sound Transit 3 measure in 2016. The measure included raising car tabs to fund a massive expansion of light rail throughout the region. Many people saw their annual car tab renewal cost rise into the hundreds of dollars.

Sound Transit said ST3 could be pushed back to 2060, nearly 20 years longer than was originally scheduled.

ST3 includes funding for the 7.8-mile Federal Way Link Extension of light rail from SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way. Construction is scheduled to start next year and be completed in 2024.

When asked by the Kent Reporter about the potential impact of I-976 on the Federal Way project, Sound Transit spokesman Scott Thompson sent an email with the statement issued by Marchione and declined to answer specific questions about the SeaTac to Federal Way light rail extension.

On Thursday, Thompson was able to say in an email, “We don’t anticipate I-976 impacting capital projects that are currently under construction or that we have under contract, which includes the Federal Way Link Extension. We are planning on entering into heavy civil construction on Federal Way next spring.”

The board will meet at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 21 in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St., in Seattle.

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