Right now, a tunneling machine is burrowing under Paris, digging 40 feet a day to create a massive expansion of the Paris Métro. Henry Grabar explains "the most ambitious new subway project in the Western world" in The Atlantic:
The extension of Line 14 is but the first leg of the Grand Paris Express, a $25 billion expansion of the century-old Paris Métro. By the time the project is completed in 2030, the system will have gained four lines, 68 stations, and more than 120 miles of track. Planners estimate that the build-out will boost the entire network’s ridership by almost 40 percent.
While Parisian suburbs "don’t look much like their American equivalents," Grabar writes, the reasons behind the metro expansion sure sound familiar:
The goals: Reduce the smog-choked region’s car traffic. Link business districts, airports, and universities. Ease social ills by knitting together the French capital’s isolated and troubled banlieues, much as the initial Métro construction did for the outlying districts of Paris proper at the dawn of the 20th century.
Here in the Puget Sound, Sound Transit is still debating just how big to make Sound Transit 3, our next expansion of rail, which could go up to $30 billion. Making the tax package bigger means raising more money over a longer period of time, translating to more light rail lines connecting more neighborhoods. Advocates say an ambitious package is what this growing city needs and could be more attractive to voters. At the end of March, when the Sound Transit Board presents its draft plan for the ballot measure, we'll find out if they agree.
Transit naysayers sometimes try to argue that it's too late to build a far-reaching rail system here, that Seattle is already too built out. If that argument isn't stopping Paris—a city that's more than 2,000 years old and has a population of more than 2 million—it shouldn't stop Seattle either.