Sound Transit gets go-ahead for $15 billion light rail expansion

SEATTLE -- State lawmakers last week approved a 12-cent hike in the state gas tax for road projects across Washington.  But that’s just the start of new taxes for transportation.

As part of the deal, Sound Transit was given the authority to raise $15 billion to extend light rail up and down the Puget Sound region.

“As you build a light rail network, the ridership grows exponentially,” said Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien, who also serves on the Sound Transit Board.

Sound Transit has been champing at the bit to extend the current light rail line, but the agency had to wait for the state to give it the go-ahead, which it just got.

Now it plans to ask voters next year for a whopping $15 billion to expand light rail up into Snohomish County and down into Pierce County.

Here’s what Sound Transit is planning for its third phase:

Light Rail Extensions by 2031

    “This network of connectivity means people can start to really rethink how they get around, not just for their commute but for all the daily activities they do,” said O’Brien.

    These major light rail extensions and other improvements to the system will cost at least $15 billion.  And here’s what that means money-wise for residents in the Sound Transit district comprising King, Pierce and Snohomish counties:

    New Sound Transit Taxes

      Next year’s vote will no doubt be very contentious.  Critics argue that light rail is way too expensive and only attracts a small number of riders.