Members of Central Link light rail review committee announced

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Looking for ways to lower the cost, shorten the schedule, reduce risk and improve Sound Transit's Link light rail project is the mission of the new Central Link Project Review Committee. The 14-member committee - made up of nine citizen experts from the business, construction and finance communities and five Sound Transit board members - is charged over the next six to nine months to review the Link light rail project and provide technical and professional advice. The committee will report regularly to the Sound Transit board and executive director on its work.

Chairing the committee is former three-term Seattle Mayor Charles Royer, who is currently the national program director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Urban Health Initiative and formerly served as the director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

"The Project Review Committee has the right combination of people with the knowledge, experience and background to provide an independent assessment and solid judgment on technical issues and potential refinements to reduce cost, schedule and risk. I'm looking forward to working with these outstanding people," Royer said.

"By looking at the Link light rail project with a fresh set of eyes and point of view, the committee's depth of talent and expertise will offer Sound Transit valuable insights and advice to help us build an affordable, quality transit system that our region needs and can be proud of," Sound Transit Acting Executive Director Joni Earl said. Earl said additional members will be added for increased technical expertise and regional representation.

Along with Royer, the citizen members of the committee currently include: Booth Gardner - former two-term Washington state governor, Pierce County executive, Washington state senator and current member of SANE Transit. Gardner earned a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University.

Steve Goldblatt - University of Washington associate professor and former chairman of the Department of Construction Management, former associate dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning and member of the independent Citizen Oversight Panel reviewing Sound Transit.

Ann Kawasaki - executive director of the Public Stadium Authority, formerly serving as director of finance and operations for the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District, acting director of the Kingdome and deputy director of the King County Department of Public Works. Kawasaki earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

Steve Koehler - president of real estate development and management firm Koehler, McFadyen & Company, board member of the Downtown Seattle Association and the Building Owners and Managers Association and member of the Urban Land Institute. Koehler earned a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in construction management from the University of Washington.

Kathy Scanlan - deputy director of museum services for the Experience Music Project, Scanlan has been involved with major public works projects including the construction of the King County Aquatic Center as an executive with the Goodwill Games and the renovation of Key Arena as an executive with the Seattle Center. Scanlan has owned her own strategic planning and event management company with clients including the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Organizing Committee and The Maritime Discovery Center.

Frank Stagen - vice chairman and chief executive officer, Nitze-Stagen real estate development and property management company. Stagen holds degrees in law, economics and political science from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Mike Vaska - partner in Seattle law firm Foster, Pepper & Shefelman, member of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and former chair of the joint Seattle Chamber/Downtown Seattle Association Task Force on Light Rail. Vaska earned his law degree from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's degree in economics from Stanford University.

Tom Walsh - former general manager of Tri-Met in Portland, Ore. overseeing construction of 19 miles of light rail including three miles of tunnels; former member and vice chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission and currently president of his own firm specializing in development and management of affordable housing. Walsh holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from Stanford University.

The Sound Transit Board members on the committee previously announced are Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel, Tacoma City Councilmember Kevin Phelps, Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, King County Executive Ron Sims and King County Councilwoman Cynthia Sullivan.

The committee will hold its initial organizational meeting tomorrow, Feb. 28 from 2 - 4 p.m. at Opus Building East #3, the Downtown Room, 625 54' Ave. S., Seattle.

Voter-approved in 1996, Sound Transit is on track to implement a three-county regional transit system plan known as Sound Move. Sound Move is an integrated regional transportation system that includes Sounder commuter rail, Link light rail, ST Express buses and improvements to transit centers, park-and-ride lots and HOV access. More information on Sound Move is available on the Sound Transit web site at www.soundtransit.org or by phone at (800) 201-4900.

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