Washington’s “Sound Transit 3” Plan Moving Forward Following Approval Of Proposition 1

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Following an election victory that saw King County (Seattle) and Snohomish County vote for approval of Proposition 1, and Pierce County (Tacoma) vote against it, the Sound Transit 3 plan — which will see a substantial expansion of the region’s light-rail system as well as bus rapid transit (BRT), express bus, and commuter rail services — will now be moving forward.


The idea of the Sound Transit 3 plan is to link the major cities of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties with the aforementioned mass transportation modalities.

The mass transit plan will be funded (as we discussed previously) through: a new half-cent sales tax; a new property tax of $25 per year per $100,000 of assessed value; and a 0.8% motor-vehicle excise tax (e.g., $80 a year on a $10,000 vehicle).

All of that is what the “Proposition 1” vote in the region was directly concerning. Now that these funding sources are approved, the 3 new taxes are slated to enter into effect on January 1, 2017.

Over their 25-year lifespan the taxes are expected to bring in $27.7 billion (through 2041). Notably, the estimated cost of the Sound Transit 3 plan runs at $53.8 billion, the remainder of which is coming from other sources.

Importantly, there’s an obligation in place for the Board to roll back the new taxes following project completion — to the level considered to be necessary for maintenance and operation. Future ballot measures, if approved, could of course change this.

As far as the vote on Proposition 1 itself, King County saw a ~58% approval, Snohomish County saw a ~52% approval, and Pierce County saw a 56% rejection. This mirrors the 2008 Sound Transit vote — where King and Snohomish counties voted yea, and Pierce County voted nay. Population numbers matter though, and King County (Seattle) has a greater influence than Pierce. The 3-county average was around 54% for approval.

Photo by Richard Eriksson (some rights reserved)

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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