Puget Sound residents will vote on a $54 billion transit package in November that will raise property taxes, sales taxes and vehicle tabs to fund mass transit projects around the region.
The Sound Transit 3 package, known on the ballot as Proposition 1, includes several key projects in Pierce County, including the routing of light rail service closer to the suburban cities of University Place and Fircrest, with a planned station at Tacoma Community College and rail service between Federal Way and Tacoma with stops in Fife.
Voters approved Sound Transit 2 in 2008. The first mass transportation package, that formed the regional transit agency, passed in 1996.
Mass Transit Now campaigners supporting the transit package include former Congressman Norm Dicks and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, while critics include anti-tax initiative gadfly Tim Eyman and Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan.
November’s ST3 package would be largely paid for through higher sales taxes, added car tab fees and increased property taxes. The plan would add a 0.5 percent sales tax; impose a property tax of up to $0.25 per $1,000 of assessed valuation and increase motor vehicle tax by 0.8 percent. The average adult would pay about $17 a month or $200 a year in higher taxes if voters approve the plan.
A regional project would further link the suburbs with Tacoma and the rest of Puget Sound through extensions of rail service from downtown Tacoma to Federal Way. This 9.7-mile route would include stops in Fife that would provide warehouse workers and employees on the Tacoma tideflats with mass transit options 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 as well as offer 116 miles of tracks throughout Pierce King and Snohomish counties.
ST3 would extend Sounder south line platforms in Auburn, Puyallup, Sumner and all south line stations to serve trains up to 10 cars in length, carrying 40 percent more passengers. It would also add two new Sounder south line stops south of Lakewood at Tillicum to serve Joint Base Lewis-McChord and DuPont, both with parking, and improve bus speed and reliability where possible by running on shoulders of State Route 167, I-405, I-5 and SR 518.
The Tacoma Link light rail extension to Tacoma Community College would open in 2039, when the region is expected to have added a million new residents.
Estimates put the cost of the line at somewhere between $447 million and $478 million to construct a 3.65-mile route from 19th Street in downtown Tacoma to TCC. Projected ridership would be about 8,000 a day. The route would stop around Sprague Avenue, Union Avenue, Stevens Street, Pearl Street and Tacoma Community College, which serves as a hub for local bus routes. Trains would run about every six minutes.
Find details about the projects, timeline and costs of Sound Transit 3 at soundtransit3.org.