When the ST3 ballot measure was passed, it promised West Seattle light rail in 2030. Since then, the schedule has slid to 2031. And as a result of the “realignment” process on which Sound Transit has embarked because of projected revenue shortages and cost increases, it could be pushed back even further. The ST Board – mostly local elected officials from King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties – is supposed to adopt a realignment plan next month. At a special board meeting today, three possible scenarios were presented – they’re in the slide deck starting on page 3:
(If you can’t see it there, read it here. Note that these are not necessarily what the board will consider in its final vote.) While the third scenario would deliver all of West Seattle light rail by 2032, the other two would phase it in, starting no sooner than 2035.
Comments during today’s meeting continued to show disagreements between board members on the process itself. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan declared that the board is “barreling toward a decision that’s one of the worst decisions we could make as a board,” amending the plan based on financial projections that already have seen major changes and could see more. King County Executive Dow Constantine also warned against making monumental decisions based on “speculative” information. He suggested the decision could be delayed a bit further until the ST budget process gives them a better picture of finances. King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, meantime, has been advocating working on scenarios to cut costs rather than delay projects, and she is said to be working with ST staff on an “alternative” along those lines, though it was not ready for presentation today.
No votes were taken at the meeting, but board chair Kent Keel (from the University Place City Council in Pierce County) asked members to send him their thoughts before the next full board meeting June 24th. He also noted that the System Expansion Committee will get an update one week from today on the evaluation of those dramatically increased costs first revealed earlier this year.