The TL;DR - How to vote on ST3

October 12, 2016

Welcome to The TL;DR! 

If you don't know, tl;dr is internet speak for "Too Long; Didn't Read," which is what you can now use to comment on your uncle's two-page-long conspiracy theories he posts to Facebook. The TL;DR will take topics and break them down into bite-size nuggets, give you the nuggets' source (unlike a few fast food restaurants) and will hopefully teach you a thing or two!

For the first-ever edition of The TL;DR, we tackle a hotly-contested proposition about to hit the ballot in November - ST3.

The TL;DR: On November 8, you get to vote to expand Seattle’s mass transit over the next 25 years! It costs a lot and we should already have it, but the light rail to Ballard sounds dope…

Buses Trains and the future of traffic in Seattle

It’s election season (yay...)! While this November 8th we get to choose between America’s sneaky Grandma and America’s drunk uncle to lead the family dinner for the next four years, we also get to vote on a bunch of local stuff that could have a lot more impact on our daily lives like who will be our new governor.

Also on the ballot is today’s topic. ST3 (Sound Transit Proposition No. 1), an initiative that, if approved, would expand mass transit in the city of Seattle for things like the Link Light Rail, Rapid Ride and the Sounder rail.

But Seattle’s transit sucks!

Well, yeah. That’s why we get the chance to vote to improve it or to keep it nice and crappy, just the way we like it. The new transit system starts connecting the city in some big ways.

If ST3 were to pass, it would add 62 new miles of light rail connecting Everett, Tacoma, Ballard and West Seattle, and across to the East to get you to Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, and Issaquah. You are now free to move about the region. That’s on top of the stations already under construction at Angle Lake, Northgate, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Overlake.

Here are all the ST3 details.

This is all cool, but also very frustrating because….

We could have had this a LOOOOONG time ago

Back in 1970, the federal government was offering up some serious dough (75 percent of the entire cost) to build a mass transit system in Seattle that was 49 miles of track underneath the city that would have connected downtown, to Ballard, to West Seattle, to the east side of Lake Washington and south to the airport and the ‘burbs.

That money ended up going to Atlanta where they built the MARTA system instead, which left us high and dry in Seattle, where voters didn’t approve a new rail system until 1996 for 3.9 billion big ones out of pocket.

Wait, so how much with ST3 cost?

Well, it ain’t cheap, doc. According to the ST3 website, “The estimated cost to implement ST3 is $53.8 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars, of which $27.7 billion would be financed with new local taxes.”

That seems like a lot (because it is), but that tax increase manifests as 50 more cents if you were to make a $100 purchase. It also looks like a property tax increase of 25 cents for each $1,000 of value and a .8 percent increase on vehicle tabs.

When will it be done?

That’s tricky to say, but the easy answer is “not for a very long time.” 25 years from now, if everything goes to plan. It could go faster, it could go slower. It could totally Bertha it and go belly up after only a few months. Construction takes time, especially when you are digging underground.

If you’re grabbing those sweet, sweet nachos at Matador in Ballard and are hoping you can hop the light rail home, you’ll be standing outside until the new train rolls up in 2038. A couple new light rail stops would open up every few years until 2039 when it finally pulls into Issaquah. Kirkland will get its stop in 2021, Lynwood in 2023 and West Seattle homies will get connected in 2030.

OK, so what do the haters say?

Those who want you to vote “No” really don’t like the price. They also think ride-sharing is the way of the future. They really like their UBERPOOL, apparently. If you own a home in King County, you stand to lose the most money with the tax increases.

You can use the “No” group’s nifty calculator to determine how much it would cost you here. We don't know if they'll give this project to Atlanta if it fails (ok, probably not, but it's funny to think about Atlanta being a city with miles and miles of mass transit with only the Coca-Cola factory to visit).

How do I vote?

I'm glad you asked. Online voter registration is over, but you can register in person or via mail until October 31! Bonus points if you register while dressed like Ken Bone for Halloween.

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