[IMAGE]parsonsb.jpg[/IMAGE]Transportation is the top concern of residents and employers in Seattle - outpacing even economic issues in perceived importance, according to polls conducted by the media during several recent elections. With the region's population expected to expand 30 percent by 2030, voters are looking to mass transit to maintain Seattle's livability and balance of natural surroundings and thriving urban areas.
The opening of Seattle's Central Link light rail in 2009 was the culmination of a 20-year campaign to develop rail transit in the Central Puget Sound area — an effort that is continuing with an ambitious 15-year plan for expansion of the region's public transit system.
The first section of Central Link, which opened in July 2009, ran 14 miles from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. The second section, which extended the light rail line 1.7 miles from Tukwila to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, opened in December, carrying travelers from downtown to the airport in 38 minutes.
Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) has been involved in developing the Central Puget Sound Region's high-capacity transit system from its beginning. PB assisted Sound Transit, the region's transportation agency, in planning the initial system and served as a member of a joint venture responsible for preliminary engineering of the overall system. PB also provided construction management services for the Beacon Hill tunnel and the Tukwila elevated segment - two of the most challenging sections of Central Link.
With the successful opening of Central Link, the Seattle region now looks to the future and how to provide transit for the expected increase in the region's population by 2030. To meet that challenge, PB worked with Sound Transit to prepare Sound Transit 2 (ST2), a 15-year plan to expand Seattle's light rail, commuter rail and regional express bus systems.
ST2, the Sound Transit regional high-capacity transit plan approved by voters in 2008, will add 36 miles of light rail and result in significant enhancements to regional bus and commuter rail service.
"ST2 will reduce transit travel times, increase ridership and provide an alternative to congested freeways," said Cathy Strombom, PB's ST2 project manager. "The ST2 program builds upon the original Sound Move plan currently being implemented to create a comprehensive integrated high-capacity transit plan that will result in cleaner air and more mobility. The ST2 plan will help maintain the quality of life that's the hallmark of the Central Puget Sound region."