Revised budget and schedule proposed for central Link light rail

Publish Date

The Sound Transit Board today was presented with a detailed staff report on updated estimates of the costs to complete the central Link light rail system, updated revenue projections for funding the project, and a revised construction schedule that would allow the system to be built without increasing local taxes. The board asked staff to report back with additional information at its January 11 meeting prior to deciding whether to pursue the revised plan. Public open houses will be held on January 8 and 9 for the public to learn about and respond to the proposed changes.

The report recommends revising the project schedule to target completion of the line in 2009 rather than the original date of 2006, and revising the budget from $1.95 billion to $2.6 billion (1995$). When adjusted for inflation the costs go from an original estimate of $2.5 billion up to a total of $3.6 billion. The additional cost could be covered without additional taxes by future sales of surplus real estate, adjustments to the agency's financial plan, tax revenues collected over the extended schedule, and obtaining additional federal funding.

In his memo transmitting the report to the board, Sound Transit executive director Bob White stated that the analysis has determined that, "This new project is affordable with reasonable adjustments to our financial plan."

The report includes an in-depth analysis of the history of the project, updated estimates on the cost to complete the system, and recommendations for accomplishing the project as described to the voters in 1996 without requiring additional local taxes. The analysis was conducted over the past month at the direction of the board after learning that the costs to design and build the 4.5-mile tunnel from downtown Seattle to the University District would be more than $200 million above original estimates. The report responds to the board's request for information on not only why the estimates for the tunnel portion of the project were too low, but on the latest updated estimated cost to complete the entire system.

The full report is available on the Sound Transit Web site. A copy can also be requested by calling the agency at 206-398-5000. Public open houses to learn about and respond to the proposals are scheduled for Monday, January 8 and Tuesday, January 9 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson in Seattle.

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