Seattle (Seattle -Tacoma)

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Seattle-Tacoma Commuter Rail

Central Puget Sound (Seattle), Washington

(November 1996)


The three county Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Board adopted a ten year regional transit plan for the Seattle metropolitan area in May 1996. The plan consists of a regional, comprehensive system of services, including commuter rail service between Seattle and Tacoma, additional commuter rail service, LRT service and regional express bus service. The Seattle-Tacoma Commuter Rail service is proposed to operate along approximately 40 miles of track between the two cities and includes stations in Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup. The total capital cost of the project is estimated at $367 million (1995 dollars), including track up-grade, stations, parking facilities and rolling stock.


Section 3035(ccc) of ISTEA directed FTA to negotiate and sign a $25 million, multiyear grant agreement with the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (predecessor to Metropolitan King County) for the Seattle-Tacoma Commuter Rail Project. Through FY 1995, a total of $22.6 million was appropriated for the project. Of this amount $1.9 million was obligated for an environmental assessment between Seattle and Tacoma. The RTA subsequently received a $1 million grant for a demonstration of service between the two cities as well as service north to Everett.

In March 1995, the Phase I transit plan, including the commuter rail segment, was put before the public in a funding referendum and was defeated with a 47 percent "yes" and a 53 percent "no" vote. Much of the residual unobligated funding was rescinded by the Congress during FY 1995. Following the 1995 referendum, the RTA board developed a scaled-back Ten-Year Regional Transit System Plan, adopting it in May 1996. Voter approval of a November 1996 referendum assured local funding to implement the plan. A grant request for $1.3 million is currently pending at FTA.

MIS activity for the Ten-Year Regional Transit System Plan has been substantially completed and is expected to be finalized early in 1997. Commuter rail between Tacoma and Seattle is currently envisioned to be a component of the new plan. In FY 96, the RTA was awarded $1 million of flexible (STP) funding to assist with completion of this planning. An initial draft of an environmental assessment of the Seattle-Tacoma Commuter Rail project has not been formally issued.