This afternoon Sound Transit released its long-awaited Sound Transit 3 (ST3) Draft System Plan, the first complete draft of what will be on your ballot this fall. We’ll have much more in the coming days and weeks, but here’s the gist.
Responding both to enormous demand for better transit and public appetite for a large package amidst a healthy local economy, Sound Transit has chosen to go big: ST3 will be a 25-year, $50 billion transit package. It would build light rail to Everett, Tacoma, Redmond, Issaquah, Ballard, and West Seattle in 5 distinct phases, alongside other projects such as I-405 BRT, SR 522 BRT, and Sounder Improvements.
When preparing yourself for the long phasing of these projects, it’s probably helpful to think of ST3 being an extension of ST2, with the agency in constant and concurrent construction between 2008-2041. Here’s what the Draft Plan offers you:
In an effort to show early value despite the long timelines for rail projects, ST3 would offer a number of small projects early in the life of the package. They include:
- Implementing shoulder-running for express buses
- Providing unspecified capital improvements to RapidRide C and D
- Providing a capital contribution to improving Pierce Transit’s Route 1 on Pacific Avenue
- Providing better connections to Sumner Station, including new Sounder Connectors, presumably from East Pierce County cities such as Orting
- Parking, parking, parking. The plan would also construct new parking early in the package in Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, Kingsgate, and along North and South Sounder. It would also construct Renton’s requested new Park & Ride at I-405 and SR 167.
2024: I-405 and SR 522 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
I-405 BRT would use a modified low-capital option to run from Lynnwood to Bellevue, timed to coincide with WSDOT’s extension of HOT lanes along the full length of I-405. The NE 85th Street interchange in Kirkland would be completely rebuilt, permitting center access and dedicated exits for buses. Buses would serve the new South Renton Park and Ride and terminate in Burien after serving Tukwila Int’l Boulevard via an inline stop on SR 518.
SR 522 BRT from Woodinville to 145th Street Station would also open in 2024, one year after 145th Street Station.
2028: Redmond and Federal Way
The first ST3 capital projects to come on line would be the twin extensions from Overlake to Redmond and Kent/Des Moines to Federal Way, with 4 new stations.
2033: West Seattle and Tacoma
West Seattle: Curiously, West Seattle would be built before Ballard, with a short stub line from Alaska Junction to either Stadium or the International District opening in 2033. The line would be at grade in a presumably rail-only and quadruple-tracked Sodo transitway, transitioning to elevated over a new fixed bridge over the Duwamish River, then entering a tunnel portal for a short underground trip to Alaska Junction. Presumably, this project would be done first because Sound Transit believes it to be operable prior to a second Downtown subway tunnel, unlike a Ballard line.
Tacoma: The first portion of the spine to be complete would be Tacoma, with the extension from Federal Way opening in 2033 with stations in South Federal Way, Fife, East Tacoma, and Tacoma Dome. Trains would presumably run from Tacoma-Lynnwood as the Red Line until the Ballard line opens.
2036: North Lynnwood, Graham Street, and Boeing Access Road
3 years after West Seattle Link opens, the spine would be extended to North Lynnwood with 3 new stations (Alderwood, Ash Way, and Mariner). In addition, Graham Street and Boeing Access Road would be fully funded by ST3 and open the same year.
2038: Ballard, Queen Anne, South Lake Union
Five years after West Seattle opens, the new downtown subway would open. At this point, West Seattle trains would switch to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and run to Mariner in North Lynnwood. Tacoma and Rainier Valley trains would become the Green Line and would switch to the new tunnel, serving Downtown, South Lake Union, Queen Anne, Interbay, and Ballard. From Westlake, trains would run undergound to Queen Anne with stations at Denny Way, Harrison Street, and Seattle Center. From there trains would emerge and run at-grade through Interbay, with stations at Smith Cove, Interbay (likely at Dravus Street), and terminate at an elevated station at 15th/Market in Ballard. The train would cross the ship canal in a new drawbridge that would only open in off-peak hours, with ST working with the Coast Guard to limit openings as much as possible.
2041: Everett, Paine Field, and Issaquah
Everett: the Red and Blue lines would be extended from North Lynnwood to Everett via Paine Field, though using SR 99 from Paine Field to Everett.
Issaquah: showing that Kirkland lost its chance, a new line would be built from Bellevue to Issaquah (possibly via East Main Station), with new stations at Factoria, Eastgate, and Issaquah.
Sound Transit would have an unspecified sum to negotiate new Sounder easements, with options ranging from expanded peak service to hourly all-day service. Platforms would also be extended to 8 cars, and service would be extended to DuPont in 2036.
Future studies would include Ballard-UW, Sand Point-Kirkland, Bellevue-Kirkland-Bothell, West Seattle-Burien, and Sumner-Orting.