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Originally published Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 11:10 PM

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Sound Transit proposal leading in early returns

A regional transit proposal that would extend light rail service from downtown Seattle into the surrounding suburbs was leading Tuesday night behind solid support in King County.

SEATTLE —

A regional transit proposal that would extend light rail service from downtown Seattle into the surrounding suburbs was leading Tuesday night behind solid support in King County.

Proposition 1 would impose a sales tax increase of .5 percent, a nickel per $10, to pay for a plan Sound Transit estimates at $22.8 billion. It would expand light rail to Bellevue, Lynnwood and Federal Way.

The proposition was passing with nearly 57 percent in favor Tuesday night, especially strong in Seattle and its immediate suburbs where more than 62 percent were approving the measure. The weakest support was in Pierce County were results of absentee ballots had the measure just barely ahead, 50.82 percent to 49.18 percent.

Sound Transit's taxing jurisdiction sprawls across King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, taking in roughly half of Washington state's population. The proposition would add 34 new miles of light rail and expand commuter train and bus service.

A scrappy assortment of opponents from across the political spectrum, organized as NoToProp1.org, contended that taxpayers could wind up on the hook for more than $107 billion over 45 years, although a King County Superior Court judge rejected that estimate as unrealistic in a dispute over the ballot language.

Polls taken earlier this year indicated more than 60 percent support for the proposal. But last year, voters soundly rejected a more sweeping plan that also included road improvements and new park-and-ride lots. That measure also led in pre-election polls.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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