Sound Transit's board of directors yesterday unanimously adopted a long-range plan for how the region's mass-transit system may evolve in...

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Sound Transit’s board of directors yesterday unanimously adopted a long-range plan for how the region’s mass-transit system may evolve in coming decades, a vision that the agency will use to select a package of projects to put before voters next year.

The plan builds upon the agency’s original plans for King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in several ways:

Among the projects:

• It would add more frequent bus service along the Highway 99 corridor between Seattle and Everett.

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• It prescribes that some type of rail or a network of buses known as bus-rapid transit would connect Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah and other Eastside cities.

• It would place light rail, or bus-rapid transit that could later convert to light rail, along Interstate 90 across Lake Washington.

Critics have argued that the agency has been biased against buses, and suburban monorail backers have charged that the agency ruled out that technology to connect Seattle and Bellevue based on bad information.

Nonetheless, “I think we’ve done an exhaustive job of looking at the options, and I think it’s a great long-range plan,” said John Ladenburg, Pierce County executive and chair of Sound Transit’s board.

“The biggest problem this region has is debating things to death instead of building something.”

Still, the type of transit to be used to travel the I-90 floating bridge remains a contentious issue.

Many Mercer Island residents want to maintain a privilege they consider essential: use of I-90’s transit and carpool lanes by solo island drivers, which they would lose if Sound Transit uses the lanes for light rail.

Mercer Island Mayor Alan Merkle said he was initially disappointed by an amendment by Bellevue Mayor Connie Marshall to include only light rail and convertible bus-rapid transit as options in the plan.

But he said he appreciated a later motion by the board that calls for additional testing before a final decision is made.

Yesterday’s decisions are not set in stone. As more studies are conducted, the board may adjust its recommendations.

Whether more projects are built depends on voters. Sound Transit is in the midst of the first round of projects that voters approved in 1996, including a light-rail line that eventually will connect downtown Seattle to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Sounder commuter train between Everett and Seattle and Seattle and Tacoma, new park-and-ride lots and special freeway ramps for buses.

Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618 or kgaudette@seattletimes.com