Sound Transit Board approves updated Long Range Plan

The Sound Transit Board unanimously approved an amended Long Range Plan (LRP) that sets the stage for determining the next round of service and construction projects for the regional agency, according to a meeting of the board on July 7.

“Now we have to roll our sleeves up and get down to specifics,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. “This Long Range Plan gives us the ‘big picture’ of what regional transit should look like by the year 2030. Over the next several months, we will be working with communities within the transit district to determine from the LRP the highest priorities in technology, service and construction. This will help the Board shape Sound Transit 2, the ballot item that will go to the voters in 2006.”

Sound Transit is successfully delivering the first wave of projects, according to the agency. Sounder trains are running daily between Tacoma and Seattle and Everett and Seattle, and the service is expanding. Sound Transit’s extensive ST Express bus network includes 19 routes, more than 10,000 new Park-and-Ride slots, and new infrastructure such as direct access freeway ramps allowing buses to avoid congestion. Tacoma Link light rail is attracting more riders than expected, and Sound Transit remains on track to deliver Central Link light rail on time, on budget, and all the way to the airport.

“This is an incredibly important time for our region,” added Ladenburg. “This process will determine how we will connect communities not only for our existing residents, but also for the more than the 1.2 million people who will move here over the next 25 years. Our future depends on expanding the Sound Transit system.”

Highlights of the Long Range Plan approved by the Sound Transit Board include:

— Narrowing the High capacity Transit options on Interstate-90 to light rail or bus rapid transit service (convertible to light rail) operating in exclusive right-of-way;

— Bus rapid transit operating in the HOV lanes of Interstate 5, Interstate 405 and State Route 167, with major infrastructure improvements including transit centers, park-and-ride facilities and direct access freeway ramps;

— Light rail running all the way from Everett to Tacoma, as well as a westward extension of the existing Tacoma Link light rail system;

— Potential light rail service on Interstate 405 and a potential extension to Burien;

— High capacity transit service on State Route 522 and across Lake Washington on State Route 520;

— A bus rapid transit system running on State Route 99 from Seattle to Everett;

— Additional ST Express bus service around the region.