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Sound Transit facing $11.5 billion funding gap seeks public input

Through April 30, regional residents are encouraged to provide public input to the Sound Transit Board of Directors on priorities for managing an unprecedented financial environment in its work to advance voter-approved transit projects that are not already under construction.

Current outlook

Sound Transit faces two major, simultaneous challenges. A pandemic-driven recession has severely reduced consumer spending and agency tax revenues at the same time that real estate and construction market pressures continue to drive project estimates to levels significantly beyond previous assumptions. 

These factors result in a currently projected $11.5 billion affordability gap to complete the full expansion program as originally planned (the Board will update this forecast on April 22).

Realignment process

Through a process called realignment, the Sound Transit Board is working to determine how plans and timelines for voter-approved projects will need to change to address these financial pressures. The approved Sound Transit 3 ballot measure requires this process when it is clear the program is not affordable.

Alongside identifying options to manage costs, the first emphasis of the realignment is pursuing federal grants and other alternative revenue sources to help close the financial gap. To the extent the agency cannot secure sufficient new resources, establishing realignment plans this summer will help ensure affordability under updated projections for current revenue sources. The Board’s options include delaying the delivery of projects to provide longer periods to collect revenue; delivering projects in phases; and reducing project elements.

“The input that residents provide will help the Sound Transit Board establish a framework for managing whatever affordability gap remains after continuing our intensive work to secure additional financial capacity,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place City Councilmember Kent Keel. “Our focus is on opening these projects with the least possible impact to when they will greatly expand our residents’ travel options and create thousands of jobs.”

How to provide input

Through April 30, community members can provide the Sound Transit Board with public input on realignment through several options:

The agency will compile and present input to the Sound Transit Board in May in advance of upcoming realignment discussions. 

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