Sales tax hike for Sound Transit would bring light rail

A massive package of transit projects that aims to bring light rail to Lynnwood in 15 years is set to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, a year after voters rejected a similar measure tied to road projects.

If the $17.9 billion measure passes this fall, Snohomish County should also see a big increase in bus service, according to Sound Transit, the transit agency that has prepared the ballot measure.

Edmonds City Councilwoman Deanna Dawson, a Sound Transit board member, said that people coping with high gas prices should benefit from more bus service in the near future. Two other board members from Snohomish County, Everett City Councilman Paul Roberts and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, both support the measure.

Opponents of the measure had said taxpayers struggling with the slow economy can’t take more tax hikes.

The measure aims to tackle bus, train and light-rail projects by 2023 in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. It needs a majority vote to pass in the Sound Transit District, which stretches over the three counties. If approved, the package is expected to result in a new half-cent sales tax hike per dollar spent, or 5 cents on a $10 purchase.

If voters approve the plan, light rail is expected to be built near the Lynnwood transit center just west of I-5. The area is part of about 210 acres that city officials have designated as the future city center. The city hopes to transform the area into a densely populated downtown where people live and work.

In November 2007, voters decisively rejected a different transit proposal tied to a series of road improvements. The proposal was criticized by opponents as being too big and complicated to pass.

This time, voters will have a chance to decide only on transit projects. The new plan should also reduce air pollution by taking drivers off clogged roads, said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the chairman of the Sound Transit Board of Directors.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or

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