Sound Transit Shares New Timelines for Ongoing Projects

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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Sound Transit

Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm updated stakeholders on the public transit agency’s current project timelines Dec. 8 via the agency website, outlining the status of five major extension projects. 

She noted “challenges pushing out timelines” on current Link light rail construction projects but said she is committed to Sound Transit’s aim to provide increased transparency about work progress.

“Sound Transit remains deeply committed to delivering regional transit within reasonable timelines while providing that these services are planned, designed, constructed, operated and maintained for safety and quality that will support our region for generations,” Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm wrote.

Timm led with updates on the T Line. 

While Sound Transit sought to open the Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension by the end of the first quarter of 2023, Timm said the agency will not be able to meet that target.

During the past few months, Sound Transit’s construction management and inspections teams identified and solved several quality issues on the Hilltop project, she said. “While successful, that work cumulatively depleted our schedule cushion,” Timm said. 

Crews identified a new issue regarding the track geometry in one section of the extension during systems testing and final inspections. The agency said it will be bringing in track experts to provide an independent assessment of the issue and possible solutions.

“We don’t have all the answers yet on how it will affect Hilltop’s opening timeline,” Timm said. “We pledge to you that we will work to open this project as soon as we can do so while maintaining quality and safety and will keep the lines of communication open on the progress toward start of service.”  

1 Line and 2 Line project updates

Sound Transit also provided updates on the agency’s other Link projects in construction, outlining the work ahead to set new opening dates for the extensions to the Eastside, Lynnwood and Federal Way. 

Timm cited delays caused by the pandemic and its effects on the labor market and global supply chain, a regional concrete delivery strike, and design and construction issues on some projects. 

On the Federal Way Link Extension, the agency is developing a new long-span bridge design over an unstable soil area and continuing to develop a schedule.  

Timm said launching new service will happen most quickly if construction is completed in the following order: Lynnwood Link Extension, then the East Link and Downtown Redmond extensions concurrently, followed by the Federal Way Link Extension.  

In addition, it may be possible to open a portion of the East Link Extension earlier, between South Bellevue Station and Redmond Technology Station. Sound Transit has been studying the feasibility of an “East Link Starter Line” service.   

Due to relying on shared resources across the agency, Timm explained that the agency has determined a window of at least six months between openings is essential to reliably activate new service on each extension. 

Agency staff will provide another update to the Board in January, Timm said.  

More coverage of Sound Transit can be found here.