Sound Transit has entered an extraordinarily busy time, with new light rail construction entering a whole new phase of activity. The connection from downtown to the University of Washington is moving towards completion; the extension to Northgate and Lynnwood is actively proceeding; light rail to Bellevue and Redmond is in design; and light rail south of the airport is also underway.
Constructing rail lines in three directions is a big stretch for the agency, but it is also managing increased ridership on buses and the existing light rail segment and working to improve those services as well as Sounder commuter rail. With new policies on transit oriented development and station access added to the mix, the Seattle metropolitan area can finally see the outlines of a truly comprehensive transit system that has the potential to transform our transportation system – although there is still a lot of work to do. Here are some of the highlights of what happened in 2012, and what to expect in 2013:
Accomplished in 2012:
- Sound Transit served 25.8 million bus, train, and paratransit boarding’s.
- Sounder service began to South Tacoma and Lakewood.
- Tunneling was completed from the UW to the Capitol Hill Station and from Capitol Hill to downtown.
- The North Link baseline budget and schedule was adopted by the Board, and ground was broken at Northgate.
- The North Corridor (Northgate to Lynnwood) alternatives analysis was completed.
- East Link went into final design, and negotiations with the City of Bellevue advanced the project to the next stages.
- A design/build contract was awarded for the extension from the airport to S. 200th St, and planning for other extensions in the South corridor began.
- The Board adopted a new Transit Oriented Development policy.
Planned for 2013:
- Boardings will increase by another 10%, to 28.3 million
- University Link will have track installed and interior work will begin on the University and Capitol Hill Stations.
- The Capitol Hill Transit Oriented Development agreement with the City of Seattle will be approved and implementation will begin, setting the table for a new transit community on the land around the new station.
- Contracts will be awarded for tunneling from the UW to the Maple Leaf portal, and pre-construction work will begin on the U District and Roosevelt Stations.
- The Northgate Link station design and access plan will be completed.
- Final agreements with Bellevue will be completed and prototype testing of the track system to be used on the I-90 Bridge will begin.
- Construction will begin on the S 200th Link Extension.
- The Board will begin planning for the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.
- Planning studies will begin on South Corridor alternatives, Tacoma Link extension, Federal Way extension, and Ballard to Downtown.
- The Preferred Alternative will be identified and preliminary engineering will begin on the Lynnwood Link Extension.
- The Board will adopt a new parking and system access policy, which will give more emphasis to non-motorized access to stations, as has already been done for Northgate.
Sound Transit is delivering on its promises, and the Board is actively considering when we can put the next phase, Sound Transit 3, on the ballot!