Somers appointed Sound Transit Board chair; Strickland vice chair

The Sound Transit Board  voted unanimously to appoint Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers as chair of the Sound Transit Board of Directors. Redmond Mayor John Marchione and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland were unanimously appointed vice chairs.

“I am very proud to serve our region as chair of the Sound Transit Board,” Somers said. “Our greatest opportunity to bring positive change for our region is in properly implementing Sound Transit 3, a historic victory for transportation mobility, economic growth and environmental stewardship.”

“I commit to the Board and the people of the region that Sound Transit will now be singularly focused on delivering the plans voters approved, and we will do it in a fiscally responsible manner,” Somers said. “With the dramatic expansion we now face in both the number and complexity of projects, we must reform Sound Transit’s organization and processes so we can maximize efficiencies and continue completing our projects on time and within budget. I have launched this process in Snohomish County and look forward to helping Sound Transit do the same for the people of our region.”

Marchione is stepping into the vice chair role as construction of East Link light rail ramps up in 2017.

“This is an important time for Sound Transit and Eastside communities as we build our light rail spine and add service in the overloaded I-405 corridor,” Marchione said. “I look forward to helping keep these and other projects across the region moving and to working with local jurisdictions to foster great housing, jobs and transit connections near stations.”

Strickland will continue in the vice chair role she was appointed to in 2013.

“I am honored to continue serving as vice chair as we ramp up regional transit expansions, including the long-awaited extension of light rail to Tacoma,” said Strickland. “This infrastructure will improve our residents’ commutes and economic opportunities, and we will continue our focus on delivering projects as quickly and cost-effectively as we possibly can.”

The new officers’ terms extend for the next two years.

Board members and Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff praised the work of the outgoing board chair Dow Constantine, King County Executive, in leading the agency over the past three years. In December 2015 the Board asked Constantine to serve an extra year as his two-year term was expiring to continue guiding the agency’s efforts to shape the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure that regional voters approved in November.

“Today Sound Transit and our region’s commuters are fortunate to gain Executive Somers’ leadership on the heels of Executive Constantine’s historic accomplishments,” Rogoff said. “Under the Chairman’s Somers’ guidance, we will make the critical transition from a regional plan to real projects to expand service and keep people moving in the years ahead.”

The Board kicked off its December meeting with tributes to Constantine as well as Board member Pat McCarthy, who was elected Washington State Auditor in November following eight years of Board service as Pierce County Executive. Newly elected Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier today attended his first meeting as the newest member of the Sound Transit Board.

The Sound Transit Board last month approved a $1.6 billion 2017 budget that provides $1.2 billion in light rail and other system expansions. Work this year will emphasize intensified construction toward the 2021 opening of light rail service to Northgate and 2023 openings to the Eastside and Lynnwood. Work in 2017 will also include progress toward the 2024 openings of light rail to downtown Redmond and Federal Way, which will be the first of the recently approved light rail expansions to come online. Over the next eight years Sound Transit will also focus on other key investments, including bus rapid transit on I-405 and SR-22 and Sounder south line expansions, at the same time it advances light rail extensions to Everett, Tacoma, Ballard, West Seattle, South Kirkland and Issaquah.

Sound Transit is currently developing a Program Implementation Plan spanning projects approved in both 2008 and 2016 for upcoming review by the Board. The plan will include a master program schedule and refinements of internal processes as the agency works expand its capacity to complete the region’s 116-mile light rail system.

– Sound Transit