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Everyone Wants to Change Seattle's ST3 Light Rail Plans (& They're Not Even Approved Yet)

When you're talking about something like light rail, you can't please everybody. That won't stop everyone from wanting to be pleased

When the fully-operational plans for ST3 were unveiled, there were some very clear winners and losers in terms of who was getting service and by when. Some folks were unhappy with the lack of a dedicated line to their neighborhood. Others were upset that it was going to take so much longer for their part of town to get light rail than other parts of town. Some towns wondered aloud why they weren't getting service before other towns.

It's to be expected. And so it the inevitable response by those parties who feel wronged as they attempt to change the system before it has even been approved.

The push to not only get the Ballard light rail line up and running sooner, not to mention more inclusive, has already moved into high gear. As for right now, Ballard won't get light rail until 2038 and plans don't include an east-west line running from Ballard across Fremont to UW, something many were hoping to see. One group is not only pushing for a speedup on all of this but they'd also like to see the addition of a Salmon Bay line that runs from downtown through Magnolia and up to Ballard.

Business and civic groups in the Northwest Seattle Coalition for Sound Transit 3want a tunnel beneath Salmon Bay instead of a 70-foot-high drawbridge. They also seek elevated tracks west of 15th Avenue West in Interbay, instead of tracks in the median.

A tunnel and elevated tracks would add about $600 million, a draft comparison shows.

Doing so would cut into the overall budget and some say could limit potential Sound Transit spurs in places like West Seattle, which has emerged as a kind-of rival to Ballard in terms of light rail access, at least in terms of timing.

Meanwhile, City Councilmember Debora Juárez wants to see the addition of a light-rail stop where I-5 meets North 130th Street, which isn't currently in the ST3 plans. Some Lynnwood officials feel as though such a stop would hamper commute times, but in the battle to please constituents, everyone's got a dog in this fight.

That's even true outside of Seattle. Sound Transit board members from Snohomish County recently threw their own plan in the mix in order to get light rail to Everett by 2033, eight full years earlier than what's currently planned. Many in Everett are not pleased with the 2041 timeframe, which puts the Snohomish County city near the very end of light rail development. This revised version would not only change the route slightly but could save millions, which would thereby make it easier to complete sooner.

We've got a long way to go before any of these plans can be discussed in rich detail. First things first, ST3 needs to be approved by voters. After that, let the haggling begin.
· Ballard, Magnolia seek pricey add-ons to Sound Transit light-rail plans [ST]
· Alternative plan would bring light rail to Everett by 2033 [Herald]
· Sound Transit 3 Plan Calls For Second Downtown Seattle Tunnel, 108 Miles of Light Rail [CS]
· The Winners & Losers of ST3's Light Rail Expansion Plan [CS]