Price Tag Jumps for Seattle Light Rail Projects

Land values and construction costs have increased since voters approved the Sound Transit 3 ballot initiative.

January 12, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Sound Transit Seattle

Michael B. / Flickr

"Cost estimates for extending Sound Transit light rail to both Ballard and West Seattle have risen by about $5 billion," reports Michelle Baruchman. That increase amounts to 50 percent of the previously estimated cost of extending light rail on either end of the Sound Transit system.

Another light rail project, between Federal Way and the Tacoma Dome, has also increased dramatically, according to Baruchman.

"Sound Transit blames the higher costs primarily on rising real estate prices in densely developed areas where projects would be built, and a hot construction market that has pushed prices higher than expected — even during the pandemic," according to Baruchman. The price of the projects has increased along with the price of land since voters approved the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2015.

The rising costs estimates will require Sound Transit to make final decisions on construction during the final environmental impact statement process. Sound transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick is paraphrased in the article as saying "actual projected costs will become more clear as projects advance to around 60% of the final design."

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