Sound Transit executes Rainier Valley light rail construction contract

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Sound Transit today executed a contract to begin construction of the Central Link light rail segment serving the Rainier Valley.

"This spring we will begin construction of the second major section of Central Link light rail," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "Sound Transit is moving ahead aggressively to build this important element of the regional mass transit system that the voters mandated."

The 4.3-mile section of light rail tracks and the associated improvements along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South will be built by RCI-Herzog, a joint venture. The company's $128.3 million proposal was $30.4 million under the engineer's estimate. The Rainier Valley contract is the fourth major Central Link Initial Segment contract to come in under budget.

"Central Link is moving ahead," said King County Executive Ron Sims, a Sound Transit Board member and 2002-2003 chairman. "Light rail will bring major improvements to the Rainier Valley including not just transportation benefits but new sidewalks, landscaping, street crossings, and burying utility lines underground."

"Light rail construction will deliver much needed jobs to the region. When the trains start rolling they'll move thousands of people a day between homes, jobs, shopping and entertainment destinations," Sims said. "Central Link is an important element of our region's future prosperity."

Sound Transit used a "best value" procurement for the Rainier Valley that placed equal emphasis on price and technical criteria such as plans for minimizing community impacts and carrying out complex utility work. RCI-Herzog submitted the lowest-cost proposal and also generated the best overall score. The company was determined to be the responsive and responsible proposer representing the best value to the public.

Sound Transit executed the contract after the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled that one of the companies that unsuccessfully sought the contract was not entitled to an injunction. This afternoon the deadline passed for the company to file an emergency motion seeking modification of the ruling.

Sound Transit broke ground on the Central Link Initial Segment in October after receiving a $500 million federal full funding grant agreement. Currently, two major components of the Central Link Initial Segments are under construction by Kiewit Pacific Co., including the light rail alignment through Seattle's SODO area and a 25-acre Operations and Maintenance Facility and train storage yard. Totaling $94.7 million, these two contracts came in 15 percent below Sound Transit's engineer's estimate.

Sound Transit is preparing to issue contracts for building the three remaining sections of the 14-mile Initial Segment.

A contract for building a one-mile tunnel through Beacon Hill as well as the underground Beacon Hill station and above-ground McClellan Street Station is scheduled to be awarded this spring. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

Also this summer, Sound Transit is scheduled to execute a contract for retrofitting the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to accommodate both light rail trains and buses, as well as constructing a short tunnel extension beneath Pine Street. Work on the Pine Street "Stub Tunnel," which will allow trains to change tracks and directions of travel, is scheduled to begin this fall. The DSTT retrofit is scheduled to begin in fall 2005, two years ahead of the previous schedule.

Sound Transit, the Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Metro and Community Transit are working together to implement a $16 million package of improvements to downtown streets and sidewalks. These major investments will improve the flow of buses and downtown traffic both during downtown light rail construction and long after.

Early next year Sound Transit is scheduled to issue the contract for building the light rail alignment from Boeing Access Road to the southern end of the Initial Segment. Trains will run primarily on elevated guideways in this section of the alignment.

Central Link is scheduled to begin passenger operations in 2009 and is projected to move more than 42,000 people a day by 2020.


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