Sound Transit 3: Could it improve commute near JBLM?

Sep 22, 2016, 5:31 AM

DuPont Station is right beside railroad tracks, but no trains stop here.

Buses are the only option for commuters to Tacoma or Seattle, and they get stuck in ever-worsening I-5 traffic by Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“No matter what day of the week it is, there’s traffic,” said DuPont resident Chris Elfrank.

Sound Transit 3 would extend Sounder south line commuter rail service, which now ends in Tacoma and Lakewood, to Tillicum and DuPont.

The agency said it would serve military families and a community that could see 75 percent growth in the coming decades.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Elfrank said.

A DuPont extension would cost around $300 million and would serve between 1,000 and 1,500 riders each day by 2040. Because that number is so small, the cost of the extension for every new rider brought to transit, $171, is the highest in all of ST3.

Compare that with the $33 per new rider for a second Downtown Seattle light rail tunnel that could cost billions, but far more people would use.

“It strikes me as a bizarre disregard for costs,” said Mark Ahlers, of the group Smarter Transit, which opposes ST3.

“It’s not a census-based or data-based rail map, it’s a political alignment,” said Troy Serad, of Smarter Transit.

KIRO 7’s Graham Johnson asked Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff if the project map was designed to get votes.

“No,” Rogoff answered. “I think it’s designed to create a regional mobility plan to actually give people the opportunity to go from one corner of the region to another.”

ST3 includes light rail expansions in less-dense areas, like south Kirkland, where trains would run to a park and ride, and Northeast 130th Street in Seattle, where the station would go in a neighborhood of what’s now single family homes.

An agency analysis last spring showed a 130th Street station would cost $79-85 million and serve fewer than a thousand riders a day.

Sound Transit passed over a 130th Street station in its draft plan, but added it to the final plan in June after intense lobbying led by city council member Debora Juarez.

Rogoff said the station was added to the final plan because Juarez, “in combination with a great many people in the community, called our attention to the fact that the zoning was going to change.”

City planners tell KIRO 7 there’s the potential for rezoning near 130th Street to create a dense urban village, but no changes would be made without an extensive public process.

The already-dense Seattle neighborhood of Belltown will be passed over for light rail.

“It literally goes around the neighborhood,” Serad said of the proposed alignment.

Serad said other parts of Seattle don’t have enough people to justify light rail.

“The city is largely pocketed with single family homes and light population densities so there is not some extraordinary need for gold-plated subway lines, no, not at all,” Serad said.

MyNorthwest News

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

15 hours ago

Image: A Bellingham Police Department vehicle is seen on a city street in 2015....

Julia Dallas

Bellingham sixth grader allegedly punched by man in racist attack

A Bellingham 6th-grader was allegedly attacked by a man who was spewing racist comments during a school field trip on Wednesday.

16 hours ago

Photo: Starting this fall, students at Seattle's Hamilton International Middle School will have to ...

Julia Dallas

Seattle school to say goodbye to cell phones in the fall

Starting this fall, students at Seattle's Hamilton International Middle School will have to lock up their cell phones during school hours.

19 hours ago

Image: A dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is displayed at the Neighborcare Health cli...

Sam Campbell and Steve Coogan

Measles case reported at West Seattle clinic; know the symptoms

A child, now confirmed to have measles, went to the Franciscan Health Urgent Care clinic in West Seattle, officials said in a release Friday.

20 hours ago

Image: The Supreme Court building can be seen from a distance on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washin...

Associated Press

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on bump stocks, gun accessory

The Supreme Court has struck down a ban on bump stocks, an accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.

1 day ago

Image: A multi-vehicle collision including a semitruck on Interstate 5 in Fife slowed down traffic ...

Steve Coogan

1 killed in multi-vehicle crash on I-5 south in Fife; morning traffic affected

The Washington State Patrol is on the scene of a deadly multi-vehicle crash that occurred on I-5 south in Pierce County early Friday.

1 day ago

Sound Transit 3: Could it improve commute near JBLM?