As the vote approaches on Sound Transit’s $54 billion expansion, the city of Newcastle offered a refreshingly candid take on how its residents would be affected.

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LOOK to the Eastside for refreshing perspective on Sound Transit 3.

The city of Newcastle recently broke from the municipal pack and formally voiced concerns that many area residents share about the $54 billion transit proposal.

If the measure is approved in November, families in Newcastle would pay an estimated $37,500 for Sound Transit over the next 25 years and receive minimal benefits, according to the City Council.

That’s just for starters, since ST3 creates permanent taxes.

All cities in the region should provide such clarity about the cumulative Sound Transit cost and benefits their residents would see if ST3 is approved in its current form.

Newcastle’s council believes bus rapid-transit to the city could be added without raising additional taxes.

The council stated in a formal resolution that ST3 “would not benefit Newcastle in any meaningful way nor reduce its traffic congestion.”

It said the initiative is “without precedent, too expensive and has no time horizon” and would “overwhelm the public tax capacity that is also needed to fund public safety, schools, libraries, parks and more.”

This is an artist’s rendering of developer Wright Runstad’s vision of The Spring District in 2028.  (NBBJ)
This is an artist’s rendering of developer Wright Runstad’s vision of The Spring District in 2028. (NBBJ)

Mayor Rich Crispo said every city in the area is looking to raise revenue. Because residents have a limited capacity for taxes, a big ST3 increase would make it harder to get funds for other projects, he said.

“If we were to go out for additional taxing capability it’s going to be rejected, because we’re getting a big hit to our residents without them getting anything,” he said.

Newcastle’s vote followed an announcement by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce that it opposes ST3.

The Bellevue chamber supported the Sound Transit 2 initiative in 2008. Eastside light-rail is already funded by ST2 and is now being constructed through Bellevue to Redmond.

Transit is especially beneficial to the remarkable array of commercial and residential buildings being constructed in Bellevue’s downtown and the Spring District development.

Yet the chamber has less confidence in ST3’s projected costs and the benefits of its light-rail projects that won’t be done until after 2030.

As the chamber said in its announcement, “There is no need to rush to the ballot with this set of investments, at this price tag in 2016. Let’s tap the brakes, fix basic education and then come back for another try.”