TACOMA, Wash. -- On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Sound Transit announced the light rail connection from Federal Way and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in King County to Fife and Tacoma - commonly referred to as ST3 - has been delayed again, this time to 2035. The delay is a result of Sound Transit project planning issues and not funding, which means there is no additional tax burden for Pierce County taxpayers. However, this delay does mean Pierce County residents will have to wait longer for their transportation needs to be met.
“This is disappointing and now, five years after it was promised to voters of the South Sound, we have to wait again,” said Council Chair Ryan Mello (District 4). “I am deeply disappointed and frustrated. I believe Sound Transit must work to provide transportation options to the South Sound sooner rather than later; it is not an option to accept the delay with no mitigation.”
Over the next several weeks, Mello plans to work with the other members of the Pierce County Council to identify interim steps Sound Transit can take to address the South Sound’s immediate transportation needs. Some initial options identified include:
- Increasing opportunities for people to use Sounder Commuter Rail services throughout Pierce County, including more daily train runs to the South Sound, an extension to DuPont as quickly as possible, and better, safer station access
- Increasing Sound Transit ground transportation options with an expansion of express bus route services and frequency between Pierce County and King County
- Partnering with Pierce Transit (PT) to increase point-to-point transportation options like dial-a-lift or the PT runner to connect to ST express bus service stations and Sounder train stations
“We plan to work with our County and City council colleagues to put our requests into a formal letter to Sound Transit,” said Mello and Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “We understand issues arise in projects, especially one in the size and scope of ST3; however, that doesn't change the fact we need and deserve reliable transportation through the Puget Sound region now. Pierce County residents are paying Sound Transit taxes and have been for years with little value in return in the short term.”
The County Council will discuss the letter at their Tuesday, March 7 study session. You can attend the County Council study session in person at Council Chambers in Room 1046, 930 Tacoma Ave. South in Tacoma, or remotely via Zoom. To attend remotely, please visit piercecountywa.gov/4898/Study-Sessions and select “Tuesday Study Session”.
The City Council will bring forward a letter for discussion at their Tuesday, March 14 study session. Access details for all City Council meetings are available at cityoftacoma.legistar.com.
“I look forward to working with County Council Chair Mello, the Pierce County Council, and Sound Transit to find solutions for our community, because having no clear remedy to this delay is unacceptable,” said Woodards. “One in four Pierce County workers travel to other counties for employment each day and, of those, more than 80 percent work in King and Snohomish counties, adding well over a hundred thousand drivers to the I-5 corridor. Light rail is a vital connection for Tacoma to the rest of our region, and Sound Transit needs to be prioritizing solutions that show the South Sound the benefits of public transportation.”
Bryan Dominique, Communications Manager
Office of the Pierce County Council
Maria Lee, Public Information Officer
Office of Mayor Victoria Woodards