As Sound Transit rolls toward a “realignment” decision this summer that could delay West Seattle light rail (currently planned for 2031) and other projects for years, there’s a call to slow down, for reasons including a less-dire financial outlook. The suggestion comes in a letter to ST board chair Kent Keel from three board members – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci. The letter was mentioned during last week’s monthly board meeting; we requested and obtained it today from the mayor’s office:
At the heart of the letter is a request to extend the decision timeline until summer of next year, “to allow the board to examine the pros and cons of extending realignment until additional information is available, including the prospect of acquiring additional new revenues, the benefits of a clearer economic picture, identifying new flexible approaches to station access, incorporating additional information about the nature of capital cost increases and conducting meaningful public engagement.” The letter also notes that when the realignment talk began, the pandemic-related revenue shortfall was the biggest problem, and now that’s only half what it was. But cost increases have emerged as a major challenge (as reported here in January), and might require a different evaluation process than the one they’re using. The letter requests additional information in time for a discussion at the board’s next meeting (May 27th).
ST, meantime, is continuing to ask for your thoughts on “priorities” in the realignment process – there are no specific proposals yet (the board has just been exploring “scenarios”), so they are asking “what’s important to you?” via a short survey on this page. Friday (April 30th) is the deadline.