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Federal Way supports tax increase for Sound Transit light rail plan

A relentless effort to bring light rail to Federal Way’s doorstep is under way.

The Federal Way City Council passed yet another resolution July 1 regarding Sound Transit’s ST2 plan. The resolution demonstrates the council’s support for a plan based on construction of light rail as far south as South 272nd Street at a 0.5 percent sales tax increase.

The package is not one Sound Transit recently introduced to the public, but instead a variation of a package currently being considered. In recent months, Sound Transit has presented the public three possible transit solutions.

One solution is the original 20-year plan included in the failed 2007 Road and Transit measure. Another plan is based on a 12-year construction time frame at a 0.4 percent sales tax increase that would bring light rail to South 200th Street. The last plan calls for a 12-year construction time frame based on a 0.5 percent sales tax increase that would bring light rail to Highline Community College, at 2400 S. 240th St. in Des Moines.

Unanimous front

Federal Way’s unanimously passed resolution supports Sound Transit re-working the 12-year, 0.5 percent tax increase plan to extend the construction time frame another three years and the destination another approximately 3.5 miles south. The sales tax increase would remain the same.

“The City of Federal Way sees (South) 272nd Street as a marked improvement over other previously-considered southerly terminus points — specifically because it abuts the Federal Way city limits to add convenience to potential light rail transit riders...,” according to the resolution.

The destination is also preferred because it is in close proximity to park-and-ride stations at Star Lake and Redondo, according to the resolution.

Multiple options

Several transit solutions are being deliberated by the Sound Transit board now, spokeswoman Linda Robson said. Though Federal Way’s proposition was not introduced to the public, that does not mean it is completely out of the question. The board is evaluating the original 20-year plan as well as multiple variations of that package, she said.

“All of those things are before the board for consideration,” Robson said.

Ongoing efforts

The city council first made it clear to Sound Transit’s board in April, before plans were introduced to the public, that Federal Way needed access to light rail. At that time, it adopted a resolution asking the Sound Transit board to make this service to Federal Way — and further south to Tacoma — a priority. Some of the Sound Transit board members agreed with the council.

“I think the current package is shortsighted and doesn’t recognize the growth and need for light rail in South King County,” Metropolitan King County Council and Sound Transit board member Pete von Reichbauer said at that time.

Before the voters

Sound Transit is still unsure when a transit package, whether it be a 12-, 15- or 20-year completion time frame, will go before voters. It could be as soon as this year or as distant as 2010. The board will decide by July 24 if it wishes to put the measure on this year’s ballot. A 2008 ballot measure would likely receive more attention due to this being a presidential election year.

“I would much rather do it in 2010 so we have more time to develop a better education program,” von Reichbauer said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

Sound Transit recently concluded an extensive survey, asking participants which transit option they preferred. Given the choice between the two 12-year packages, 46 percent of respondents preferred the 0.5 percent tax increase option that would bring light rail to Highline Community College, according to a June 26 press release.

In comparison, 24 percent favored the 0.4 percent option, according to the release. However, given the choice of either 12-year packages or the original 20-year package that was part of the Roads and Transit measure, 43 percent of respondents preferred the 20-year package.

“The bottom line on the entire process is we have gone out to the public several times to get their feedback and see what the folks want,” spokeswoman Linda Robson said.

Learn more about the ST2 options by visiting Sound Transit’s Web site at http://future.soundtransit.org/proposed.aspx.

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