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The Link light rail system that will connect the communities of Seattle, Tukwila and SeaTac and link downtown Tacoma with the Tacoma Dome commuter rail station took a major step forward to becoming a reality as the board of Sound Transit ­ the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority - voted to award a consulting contract for conceptual and preliminary engineering for $22,989,057 to Puget Sound Transit Consultants (PSTC), a partnership of three engineering firms: Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc., ICF Kaiser Engineers Inc., and BRW Inc. PSTC's contract also includes 26 "first-tier" local subcontracting firms. A $4.6 million contingency fund will be held by Sound Transit to provide the agency with flexibility to consider new ideas from the people and communities.

PSTC was one of five consultant teams that submitted proposals to Sound Transit in October 1997, and after extensive reviews of written materials and oral interviews a panel of transit and public works experts including representatives from San Francisco, Calif.; Tacoma, Wash. and Portland, Ore. selected PSTC in mid-November, 1997. Sound Transit will co-locate PSTC's staff within Sound Transit's headquarters, thus reducing PSTC's overhead charges while providing hands-on oversight of the consultant's work. 

"The engineering work that's going to be done over the next two years will put us on the right track to build a world-class light rail transit system," Bob White, Sound Transit executive director said. 

The two-year contract's comprehensive scope of work includes on-site surveys, examining surface, aerial and tunneling design and methods, geotechnical analysis, developing architectural design for 26 stations and assessing track alignments and design.

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.