The $54 billion 'Sound Transit 3' ballot measure: A final push by supporters, opponents

SEATTLE -- The campaign over Sound Transit’s $54 billion light rail package continues to heat up, with less than a week before Election Day.

Proponents are doing all they can to convince voters that the big expense is worth the price, and that the 25-year timeline is worth the wait.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Mayor Ed Murray, who stumped Thursday in West Seattle for the $54 billion plan.

Up to now, most of the focus has been on the light rail extensions up to Everett, down to Tacoma and over to Redmond and Issaquah.  Less noticed has been the new line within Seattle, from Ballard to West Seattle.

On Thursday, Murray tried to bring that into focus by going holding an event for the proposal in West Seattle.

“Proposition 1 is West Seattle’s best chance to create fast, reliable connections with the rest of the region,” said Murray.

Opponents are definitely upping their efforts in the final days of this campaign.

Bellevue Square Mall owner Kemper Freeman, a longtime rail critic, recently donated $200,000 to the effort to defeat this measure.  He and others argue the whole plan is a waste of money.

“54 billion, it’s so big we’ve lost sight of this thing,” said Chuck Collins, an opponent of ST3, who ran the Metro bus system in the 1970s.  “It will not reduce congestion.”

Murray and other supporters are trying hard to run up the vote in the city of Seattle to make up for losses in other parts of the Sound Transit District.  To pass, ST3 will likely need 60% -- or more -- of the vote in the city to prevail.