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Revised Sound Transit 3 plan would bring rail to the Fife

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Emerald Queen Casino

The Sound Transit Board is moving forward with a revised package of mass transit projects around Puget Sound that will face voters this fall. The revised Sound Transit 3 package will speed up several key projects in Pierce County, including the routing of rail service through Fife.

The transit board is now set to formalize the package of projects this week. The vote would officially kick off the $54 billion bond measure set for a vote of residents of the urbanized areas of Snohomish, King and Pierce counties in November. Changes to the timeline and added projects came following an analysis of bond capacity showed bond debt associated with Sound Transit 2 packages would taper off before any new debt is taken on if ST3 gets a nod from voters. Voters approved Sound Transit 2 in 2008. The first mass transportation package, that formed the regional transit agency, passed in 1996.

ST3’s estimated cost of $54 billion in transit projects will be largely paid for through higher sales taxes, added car tab fees and increased property taxes. The average adult would pay about $17 a month or $200 a year in higher taxes if voters approve the plan.

“The public sent us a clear message: We want light rail and other high-capacity mass transit, and we want it as soon as possible,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We’ll continue to work with cities, communities and other partners to deliver rail and bus rapid transit even sooner.”

Extensions of rail service from downtown Tacoma to Federal Way would be completed four years sooner, for example. The new timeline shows trains could run by 2030, providing a link between Pierce County and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport through rail connections at a cost of up to $823 million. The project includes a 500-stall parking garage in Fife. An estimated 3,000 people are expected to use the train to and from this route.

This four-mile route would include a stop in Fife that would provide warehouse workers and employees on the Tacoma tideflats and guests with access to the tribal casino to use mass transit instead of their cars as well as provide tourists easier access from the airport, their local hotels and destination attractions including the Tacoma Dome, Emerald Queen Casino and Tacoma’s museums. The proposed Fife station would be on the east side of 54th Avenue. The garage would be located just west of the Emerald Queen.

City officials want the actual location of the tracks and garage to be general since plans may change as the city, tribe and other developers move forward with various projects, including State Route 167.

“A more general description would provide appropriate flexibility to analyze a couple alternatives to inform site selection and assist alignment constraints with the SR-167 gateway expansion at the ‘Fife curve,’” according to a staff report.

Find details about the projects, timeline and costs of Sound Transit 3 at soundtransit3.org.

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