EASC Board of Trustees votes to support ST3 ballot measure

Sound Transit 3 (ST3) will extend the Regional Light Rail system up from Lynnwood to Everett via Paine Field and will build Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along I-405 if Regional Proposition 1 is approved by voters in the November General Election. This builds upon measures already approved by voters to bring light rail to Lynnwood by 2023 and build a second Swift BRT connecting Canyon Park with SW Everett.

Since 1994, long-range transit plans have prioritized completion of the light rail "spine" over other light rail investments, echoed in Sound Transit plans in 1996, 2005 and in 2015. This prioritized linking employment centers in Everett, Tacoma, Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond over other potential spurs.

Last summer, Sound Transit submitted their draft proposal for ST3, outlining that Everett would wait for light rail until 2041, stating that Ballard and West Seattle would receive light rail prior to Everett. Sound Transit asked for the public’s input for improvements and changes to their plan.

Economic Alliance Snohomish County's Board of Trustees has consistently voted to make completion of the regional light rail spine a priority, noting that these transportation upgrades would be a vital asset in the future of the region and its economic development priorities, connecting jobs centers in Lynnwood, Paine Field and Everett to each other and the rest of the region. EASC created Light Rail to Everett to draw attention to the draft plan by educating business and community leaders, and encouraging all to speak up and get engaged.

On Monday, April 25, over 300 community and business leaders attended a Sound Transit public comment meeting to voice their concerns and ask Sound Transit how Everett had lost its priority in the draft plan and emphasize the importance of servicing the aerospace and advanced manufacturing job center in and around Paine Field. Residents and regional leaders, including Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling, County Executive Dave Somers and Everett City Councilman Paul Roberts, made very clear 2041 was not acceptable.

As a result of the strong leadership from our public and private leaders and EASC’s efforts with Light Rail to Everett, Sound Transit reported the following month that they had received more surveys from Snohomish County than any other community in the region except for one. On June 23, 2016, the Sound Transit Board approved the final ST3 package for voter consideration, including completion of the Lynnwood to Everett segment in 2036, five years ahead of the draft plan.

Last week, Sound Transit announced that the ST3 Support Committee appointed Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson and Edmonds travel guru Rick Steves to formulate pro arguments on the ballot and be the voice of Snohomish County in support of ST3.

Sound Transit has made clear that ST3 is the region's best opportunity to extend light rail and other critical transportation upgrades in the region. Regional leaders have echoed similar statements, acknowledging that this opportunity is the soonest we will ever see light rail and the least expensive option we will see.

This month, EASC Board of Trustees overwhelmingly approved a resolution endorsing Regional Proposition 1. EASC will continue its role in promoting the importance of ST3 and Regional Proposition 1, partnering with the Mass Transit Now campaign. The Mass Transit Now Snohomish County kickoff event will take place at the Anchor Pub in Everett on September 12, 2016 at 5pm. More information will be announced very soon.