$3.7B Sound Transit Light Rail Project Delayed

(The Center Square) – Sound Transit’s $3.7 billion east-side light rail extension is being delayed.

The east link extension project is a 14 mile extension with 10 stations between the Seattle Chinatown-International District and the Redmond Technology Station. The extension would run from Seattle through Mercer Island, Bellevue and end in Redmond.

Rachelle Cunningham, a spokesperson for Sound Transit said that the delay in the project is due to several things.

“A number of factors contributed, including the four-month-long concrete drivers strike, impacts from COVID-19, weather, quality issues on segments of the alignment, a longer pre-revenue phase needed for LRV driver orientation, training, testing, and simulated service,” Cunningham said to the Center Square via email.

The east link extension project was approved by voters in 2008, which was followed by 11 years of planning and designing. Initial construction began in 2015 as the design process was still underway with the end goal being the summer of 2023.

As for how long the delay will last: it won’t be determined until after a Sound Transit board meeting in June.

“We are undertaking a Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) across all projects to provide the Sound Transit Board with updates on revised project schedules at its June meeting,” Cunningham said.

Kiewit, a construction company based in Nebraska, is working alongside other contractors on the east link extension project.

Kiewit was selected in part because “of their proposed innovation to integrate the bus transit center into the bottom floor of the parking garage [located in the Overlake Transit Center], which left a significant parcel of developable land for Sound Transit,” Kiewit said on its website.

While Kiewit did not respond to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Kiewit gave a statement to the Seattle Times on April 27 saying that the company is currently paying for repairs and trying to get on the same page with Sound Transit.

“While some of the work is contested, we are working with Sound Transit for a mutually agreeable path forward,” a Kiewit spokesperson said.

Cunningham said the delay of the east link extension project will not bust the $3.7 billion budget.

By Spencer Pauley | The Center Square

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