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Light rail in Federal Way is derailed | Tax revenue projections for South King County down 31 percent
A planned expansion of light rail into the Redondo area of Federal Way may be pushed back past 2030 due to a larger than expected revenue shortfall.
A station in the vicinity of South 272nd Street and Pacific Highway South was planned by Sound Transit as part of the Sound Transit 2 expansion package to be completed by 2023. The station would link with the existing light rail line that runs from downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Sound Transit is projecting $3.9 billion less in revenue through 2023 than expected when voters approved the Sound Transit 2 expansion in 2008.
“Given the revenue shortfall, there does not appear to be sufficient funds to complete the Redondo station by the life of (Sound Transit 2),” said Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason.
Sound Transit has recently held public workshops showing a route to a station at South 200th Street and International Boulevard in Seatac. Sound Transit wants to push up the project’s completion of that station by four years to 2016; it was originally scheduled to open by 2020.
The Sound Transit board, however, still needs to approve that measure, which could happen this spring.
Sound Transit’s revenue shortfall — about 25 percent less than expected — can be attributed to lower tax collections, Reason said. She said the South King County area, especially, did not live up to tax revenue projections. She said that tax revenue projections in the area are down by about 31 percent.
But revenues are down across the five subareas from which Sound Transit collects tax revenue. Revenue projections are down by 26 percent for Pierce County and East King County; down 28 percent in Snohomish County; and down 16 percent in the north Seattle area.
However, Sound Transit does intend to complete studies of a Redondo station. This includes figuring out alignments — along which routes the line would run — and where a station would go.
“Whenever we are able to move forward with this project, we still want to make sure we’ve done this work,” Reason said.
According to Sound Transit’s plans, a Redondo station would stretch almost 5 miles from South 200th Street with a station each near Highline Community College and the Redondo/Star Lake park and ride lot. The estimated cost of the project, as of 2007, was between $809 million and $950 million, and would include a 500-space parking garage.
Sound Transit’s plans show a light rail line that runs through Federal Way and hooks up with the light rail system in downtown Tacoma. The line would continue from 272nd Street to the Federal Way Transit Center, then to the vicinity of 348th Street, then to the Port of Tacoma, and finally to the Tacoma Dome.
Other Sound Transit plans that are still on track — despite the $3.9 billion revenue shortfall — include expanding the the light rail north to the Northgate area of Seattle, and west from downtown Seattle to Redmond. All of those projects, according to Sound Transit’s 2011 budget, are to be completed by 2023.