Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sound Transit wants to hear from you

Sound Transit - the voter approved, multi-county agency charged with planning, building, and operating regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound - wants to hear from you.

Since its creation in the mid nineties by the people of urban Puget Sound, Sound Transit has been working to build a regional transit network that now serves 10 million riders a year.

But Washington State's most densely populated area is growing fast. More residents and more traffic are coming - and Sound Transit says it's time to get ready. The agency is preparing to go to voters in 2007 with a package of new proposed projects that would dramatically improve on our existing mass transit system.

Sound Transit wants to hear from you, the taxpayer (and the voter) about what projects deserve the highest priority:
Sound Transit [has] officially kicked off the public comment period, going live with a new interactive website and questionnaire.

"It’s time to come together as a region and decide how we should extend mass transit," said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Bellevue City Council Member Connie Marshall at a morning news conference [last Tuesday] atop elevated light rail tracks overlooking Seattle’s rush hour traffic on I-5.

Together, Sound Transit and the Regional Transit Investment District (RTID) are working on an integrated plan for road and transit projects to address rising congestion as the region’s population grows by 1.2 million over the next 25 years. Sound Transit’s public comment period that gets underway today provides an opportunity to shape the transit projects that will go to voters in November 2007 as part of the plan.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the people of our region," said Marshall. "Instead of commenting on decisions already made, everyone in the region can help shape what our future will look like. There’s no time to waste. As part of the transit expansions we need to move forward by extending the light rail tracks we’re standing on today to reach further east, north and south and move forward with other transit projects and services such as added commuter rail and ST Express bus service, more park-and-ride facilities and HOV access ramps."

Sound Transit is offering a variety of methods for the public to get involved, starting with [the] launch of a new website featuring a detailed questionnaire, an interactive map and information on the three transit system expansion options.

Starting in September Sound Transit and RTID, which is putting together a companion roads package, will hold a series of public open houses throughout the region (dates and locations to be announced) on the options for the combined transit/roads package.

"We need to hear what projects and what level of investment our region’s residents want," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "Today’s decisions will determine what kinds of communities and lifestyles we pass on to future generations."
The online questionnaire and details on the three transit package options the Sound Transit Board has identified for public review are available here.

This is your chance to make your voice heard - your chance to tell Sound Transit what you think, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican.

Some Republicans are actually starting to figure out that "no new taxes" is not a very good position to have on transportation (which is a huge statewide issue).

Eric Earling, who has become unSoundPolitics' most thoughtful writer, has challenged uSP readers to come up with some reasonable ideas for improving our transportation system. Unfortunately, many of the ideas we saw in that comment thread - eliminating HOV lanes, widening highways (it doesn't work), killing the very successful Sounder - are counterproductive, and nonstarters.

If you're interested in participating in the planning process to decide what will go before voters, please follow this link to the awesome, interactive site for SoundTransit 2. Take the questionnaire, play around with the map, and learn about what's on the table.

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