Sound Transit Facing Major Budget Shortfall for Light Rail Projects

Since voters approved a measure expanding Seattle's light rail network, construction and land costs have soared, adding billions to the projected price tag.

July 28, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Sound Transit train

Oran Viriyincy / Wikimedia Commons

Seattle's Sound Transit agency "has a $6 billion to $8 billion funding shortfall to build nine rail extensions and two bus-rapid transit routes promised in the voter-approved Sound Transit 3 measure," reports Michelle Baruchman. "Consultants this spring found that the deficit resulted from inaccuracies in early cost estimates along with rapid land and construction price increases." As Baruchman wrote in an earlier story, "[c]ost estimates for extending Sound Transit light rail to both Ballard and West Seattle have risen by about $5 billion," amounting to a 50% increase over prior estimates. 

While federal aid could help bridge the funding gap, "Sound Transit’s board is considering new construction schedules, known as a 'realignment,' that postpone most opening dates two to 10 years in an attempt to manage tax revenue." 

The Seattle Times asks readers to submit their questions about potential delays. "A realignment vote could come Aug. 5."

Monday, July 19, 2021 in Seattle Times


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