Washington’s State Auditor’s Office is trying to get Sound Transit back in shape financially. An audit was recently conducted and included ways the agency could cut costs.
First the bad news: The report states that since the ST3 transportation package was approved by voters in 2016 cost increases and equipment failures on Sound Transit projects have raised questions about project oversight. One of the bigger cost overruns occurred on the light rail line from Federal Way to Lynnwood ($1.1 billion). The light-rail extension from Seattle to the I-90 bridge called for $225 million in additional funds.
The audit is suggesting Sound Transit limit the number of order changes meant to correct design or contract mistakes. During the time period examined by the audit there were 300 change orders worth $172 million; $100 million addressed mistakes or missing information in designs and contracts. The State Auditor’s Office is recommending that Sound Transit do more advanced planning. Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff says the agency is already applying lessons learned.
Washington Policy Center Transportation Director Mariya Frost thinks Sound Transit can do a better job when it comes to contracting and competitive bidding. Pierce County executive Bruce Dammeier, who is on the Sound Transit Board of Directors, agrees with the need to reform the contracting process.