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GreekReporter.comUSA$53 Billion Transit Mega-Project Coming to Seattle, US

$53 Billion Transit Mega-Project Coming to Seattle, US

Sound Transit is delivering one of the largest transport improvement and expansion projects the US has ever seen.
Sound Transit is delivering one of the largest transport improvement and expansion projects the US has ever seen. Credit: AvgeekJoe. CC BY-2.0/flickr

Seattle in the US is set to see a new $53 billion mega-project, which is believed to be among the largest transit proposals in the history of the country.

The enormous rail project, Seattle’s Sound Transit 3, proposes the construction of an additional thirty-seven stations and sixty-two miles of light rail lines (similar to tram lines) by 2041, while also extending bus and commuter-train lines over the next twenty years.

Seattle is home to several major corporations in the US, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks, and the city’s population is seeing rapid growth. From 2010 to 2020, Seattle saw a twenty-one percent increase in its population, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

The latest projections predict that, by 2040, an additional eight hundred thousand people will become residents of the city. With a growing population, extra strain has been on the current transportation system. The new project aims to alleviate some of that pressure.

After the existing rail network has been expanded as part of Seattle’s Sound Transit 3 project, it will be roughly five times its current capacity. This will put it on par with Chicago and Washington DC.

Bringing Seattle’s Sound Transit project to life

Bringing this enormous project to fruition will require a large workforce of construction and engineering experts. Sound Transit expects the scheme will demand around forty-three million hours of labor until 2041.

Seattle, with its several lakes, mountains, forests, and relation to the sea, is a challenging place for the building of train and rail lines. While certain tracks can be built on ground level, the project will force engineers to navigate difficult terrain by tunnelling and building raised tracks and water crossings.

Not long after the project was approved, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a decline in local tax revenue, which affected the overall budget. On top of that, increasing land values have escalated the costs of purchasing space for new tracks and station, which has further strained the budget.

Sound Transit bus in Seattle.
Sound Transit bus in Seattle. Credit: Atomic Taco. CC BY 2.0/flickr

By the summer of 2021, Sound Transit found itself suffering a $6.5 billion budget deficit. This prompted the development of a new realignment plan. The new scheme meant delaying certain projects by two to five years.

Sound Transit’s website states: “We are building the country’s most ambitious transit expansion, which will connect people in Seattle and the Puget Sound to more places. ‘Powering Progress’ is not just a catchphrase but a promise we made. It’s our motivation to keep moving forward every day.”

According to the website, some major milestones in the project were reached last year, including the opening of the T Line extension in Tacoma in October and record-breaking ridership during MLB All-Star week and Taylor Swift concerts in July. Lastly, for the first time since 2020, the transit system got back to pre-pandemic levels with eighty thousand daily Link light rail riders in June.

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