Sound Transit 3: The $54 Billion Question | KNKX

Sound Transit 3: The $54 Billion Question

Jeffrey Beall (bit.ly/2ea4S4B) / Lee LeFever (bit.ly/2ewBTti) / Flickr

In a few weeks, voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties will make a decision about Regional Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3. But in 2004, voters in eight Colorado counties approved their own rail expansion called FasTracks.

Census data show that both the Seattle and Denver regions were among the top five fastest growing metro areas last year. Both areas have also largely focused on rail as a solution to congestion.

A southbound Sounder train waits at King Street Station in Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

If voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties approve the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, they would approve an expansion of not only the light rail system but also the Sounder commuter rail.

Sounder trains share the track with freight and Amtrak trains, which is partly why they can't run in both directions all day. The two Sounder lines together see an average of more than 16,000 riders a day.

A King County Metro RapidRide B Line bus approaches.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

When voters think of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, the first thing that comes to mind is usually light rail.  But the people in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties who are voting on the plan will have to consider other modes of transit, too.

ST3 would add something called bus rapid transit to Sound Transit's transportation options. 

What is bus rapid transit?

A northbound train pulls into Westlake Station in downtown Seattle.
Simone Alicea / knkx

Light rail is the core of Sound Transit 3, the regional transportation plan on the ballot in three Puget Sound counties.

The 62 miles of new rail make up the largest part of the $54 billion price tag, but the region wouldn't see most of it until after 2025.

One way of looking at why Sound Transit is so focused on light rail is to look at Everett and Snohomish County.

A Sound Transit train passes over a Sound Transit bus in Seattle.
AP Images

If you live in Pierce, King or Snohomish Counties, you will see an initiative on November's ballot called Sound Transit Regional Proposition 1. The measure will determine whether the region adopts a $54 billion transit plan called Sound Transit 3, or ST3 for short.

When voters open their ballots, they might see a few paragraphs about the plan. But ST3 can't be explained with just one page. 

Passengers get off a Sound Transit light rail train.
Paula Wissel / KNKX

November's election is fast approaching, and voters can expect a long ballot. As part of our election coverage, knkx will be looking into many candidates and issues around the state and the region.

But starting this week, knkx will focus on Sound Transit Regional Proposition 1, better known as Sound Transit 3. Voters in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties will decide whether to adopt the 25-year, $54 billion transit expansion plan.