2017 will be a much quieter year than 2016 for transit in greater Puget Sound. After opening 3 new Link stations in 2016 and nearly doubling ridership, 2017 begins the first of 4-5 years without major service additions. September will bring two more Sounder roundtrips, but that’s about it.
Though less public facing than station openings, 2017 will be a year of exceptional intensity for Link construction, and for Sound Transit as a whole. Roosevelt and UDistrict Stations will break ground sometime in Q1, South Bellevue and Overlake P&R will close in Q1, the I-90 express lanes will close to cars in June, two-way HOV lanes will extend from Seattle to Bellevue, and East Link construction will begin in earnest in South Bellevue, Downtown Bellevue, Bel-Red, and Overlake.
Lynnwood Link should complete its design by the latter half of 2017, in time for a 2018 groundbreaking. And with a new $54B mandate to extend high capacity transit regionwide, Sound Transit will begin staffing up for ST3 project development.
Originally scheduled for the end of 2016 but apparently delayed, cell and data service should extend throughout the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) early this year and Beacon Hill Station in late 2017 (more info tomorrow about this).
Your ST3 taxes will also begin collection, in 3 phases. ST3’s property tax hike begins today ($0.25/$1000 assessed), the 0.8% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) begins in March, and the sales tax bump begins in April. Seattle’s new sales tax rate will be 10.1%, and areas within both the Community Transit and Sound Transit service areas will collect 10.4%.
On the Metro side, Routes 3 and 4 will extend to Seattle Pacific University in March, the “Metro Connects” Long Range Plan should be adopted early this year, there are hints of a possible redo of the foregone Eastside ULink restructure, and Night Owl service will get a much-needed revamp in September. The new Night Owl network will do away with the 80-series vestigial loops, add trips on routes 3, 5, 11, 62, 70, 120, 124, C, D, E, and extend Route 124 to SeaTac Airport overnight when Link isn’t running. There will also be the customary restructures in March and September, with unknown changes at this time. In June, Metro and ST will study early results from their mobile ticketing pilot, and likely extend it through 2017.
Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)
Barring new Trump-era shenanigans, the FTA should approve SDOT’s Environmental Assessment for the Center City Connector (CCC), clearing the way for SDOT to receive a $75m grant for the project. 2017 may also be a make-or-break year for the Broadway extension of the First Hill Streetcar. Amid indifference/hostility from local merchants and a lack of any objective mobility benefits, the project is at risk of furlough or cancellation.
New protected bike lanes will be installed on 2nd Avenue from Pike to Denny, and on 7th Avenue from Westlake to Pike. Remaining bike projects await the recommendations of the One Center City plan. One Center City will release near-term recommendations early this year, with long-term commitments penciled in by the end of the year.
A disappointment from the start and hobbled by inadequate capitalization, topography, and (for whatever its merits) by King County’s unique helmet law, Pronto will shut down on March 31. Likely well before March, the City Council will have what looks to be a fairly contentious discussion about funding an electrified reboot with e-bikes from Bewegen. Councilmembers Burgess and Herbold are likely to be the most skeptical, and optics around the issue are politically awkward given Pronto’s rapid failure and subsequent lifeline bailout.
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
If all continues to go well, Bertha should hole-through at 6th/Harrison in mid-2017.
SR 520 will open the “West Approach Bridge North”, functionally completing construction from the Eastside to Montlake. This will extend HOV/Transit lanes to Montlake, and finally open a usable bike path, but the happiness will be short-lived when the “Rest of the West” construction begins a year later.
2017 will see the completion of Amtrak’s new Tacoma station at Freighthouse Square, the completion of the Point Defiance Bypass, and two new Amtrak Cascades roundtrips between Seattle and Portland, bringing the total to 7 daily roundtrips (including the Coast Starlight). Travel times will decline from a volatile range of 3.25-4 hours to a reliable 3 hours, 20 minutes. The new roundtrips will also be scheduled to allow same-day business travel from both Seattle and Portland, with new trips at roughly 6am and 7pm. Early this year, all trains will get cleaner and more powerful Siemens Charger locomotives.
The November 2017 election will feature campaigns for Mayor, at-large Council Positions 8 (Burgess) and 9 (Gonzalez), and City Attorney. Mayor Murray’s stature is formidable and he is unchallenged thus far. Burgess has already indicated he will not run, setting up a free for all for the seat, with 2015 runner-up Jon Grant as the early frontrunner. Gonzalez has not yet filed for re-election but likely will.
Early this month, all Seattle residents will all receive $100 in ‘Democracy Vouchers’ to be sent to candidates of their choice.
What have we missed, particularly in suburban and rural areas? Let us know in the comments.