Transit advocates call for second light rail vote to speed construction

The transit advocacy group Seattle Subway is calling for a 2018 follow-up vote on Sound Transit 3 to speed construction of the light rail plan that was approved by voters.

Fifty-four percent of voters decided to raise their own taxes to help pay for a three-county transit expansion.

The first ST3 light rail project is scheduled to open in 2024, the last in 2041.

Jonathan Hopkins, of Seattle Subway, says if Sound Transit goes back to the ballot to get 60 percent of voters to sign off, it could bond the entire cost of ST3 right away, and build the lines as much as ten years earlier.

Hopkins says the ST3 plan would stay the same, including the taxes.

"If their tax rate doesn't change and they can vote 'yes' for faster, who's not going to do that?" Hopkins said.

In an interview with KIRO 7 in August, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff floated the idea of a second vote.

"We could always come back for a supermajority to get those financial restrictions lifted," Rogoff said at the time.

In an interview Friday, Rogoff said, "We have no plan at the current time to go back to the voters and it's not at all clear that getting a supermajority for additional bonding capacity could actually speed up the vast majority of these projects."

Rogoff said it will take a long time to plan and build the lines, and it is not realistic to think a financing change could speed projects by ten years.

What could help shave some time off, he says, is cities streamlining the permit process and not putting up big fights over where the lines will run.

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