Re: “Two light-rail stations in Seattle escape ST3 budget chopping, most other projects delayed” [Aug. 5, Traffic Lab]:
The article reports that Sound Transit’s finances have come up short despite the billions authorized by voters, meaning delays for many stations’ completion. Besides ST’s expensive planning process, bond-market investors strictly limit the amounts they will lend, based on ST’s prior accumulated debt and the size of its tax base. Thus, money from bonds can come only in slow tranches.
To compensate, The Seattle Times reports that ST leaders will push for more help from Olympia and perhaps borrow from other sources. The timing for this new ST strategy is excellent. The affected counties (King, Pierce, Snohomish) can work with Olympia legislators to pass a Washington state infrastructure bank, a bill that nearly passed this year and will be reintroduced in the next session.
With its projected capitalization and its holding of tax deposits, the Infrastructure Bank could soon safely lend more than $2 billion for our state’s infrastructure. Certainly, this modest, new source of lending at favorable rates could help our ST to accelerate a few stations’ completion by at least a year or two.
Dennis Ortblad, Seattle