Hearings set as transit authority board sends draft transit proposal on for final public review
With only minor changes, the Regional Transit Authority Board has voted to send the draft regional transit proposal it unveiled last week on for a final round of public comment.
The Transit Authority has scheduled six open house/public hearings throughout the region to discuss the draft plan, and local jurisdictions and community groups may provide additional forums for public discussioon of the proposal. The board intends to make changes to the draft plan based on what it hears from the public before finalizing it in mid-May and sending it to the voters on the November 5 general election ballot.
The draft plan proposes a multi-faceted set of transportation improvements throughout the metropolitan portions of Pierce, King and Snohomish counties to be completed within 10 years for a total cost of $3.7 billion, or a little more than half the cost of the regional rail-and-bus proposal narrowly rejected by the region's voters a year ago.
Among the key features of the new draft proposal:
"Rather than simply scale down our last proposal and rush right back to the ballot, we decided to take the time to really listen and respond to the diverse and unique needs of the many communities that make up the Puget Sound region," said Snohomish County Executive and RTA Board chair Bob Drewel. "We believe we've put together a proposal that both responds to local needs and fits together into a good regional plan. This public comment period is our final 'gut-check' with the public before we send it to the ballot."
- Assisting the state in construction of a continuous freeway high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane network through the metropolitan three-county area, and construction of direct access ramps for buses and carpools to and from the HOV network, creating an "HOV expressway" to better separate HOVs from general traffic and to allow fast, reliable, local and regional bus service;
- 21 new regional express bus routes primarily using the HOV expressway network to provide fast, reliable suburb-to-suburb transit connections;
- 81 miles of commuter rail service connecting points along existing railroad tracks between Everett and Lakewood, starting with service during rush hours;
- 16 miles of new electric light rail transit serving the congested and densely populated corridor from the University of Washington to the Boeing Access Road Station where it will connect with commuter rail service, providing a much-needed link between downtown Tacoma and the intermodal transit station under construction near the Tacoma Dome;
- Region-wide coordination of schedules and fares among all local and regional transit services to provide customers with convenient, reliable, easy-to-use connections;
- A commitment that each of the five planning subareas of the RTA district will receive benefits proportional to tax revenues generated within each subarea.
Before voting to send the draft plan on for final public review and comment, the board adopted a series of minor amendments, mostly to clarify or better define elements in the proposal.
Additional information about the draft plan is available on the World-Wide Web at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/CPSRTA or by calling 1-800-201-4900.