Sound Transit light rail project $500 million over budget

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SEATTLE — Sound Transit's latest light rail project is out of budget by approximately $500 million. Agency executives say the half-a-billion dollar cost overrun with its Lynnwood light rail project is due to land purchases and the increased costs of labor and materials, the Seattle News Tribune reports.

The Lynnwood light rail project had an original price tag of $2.4 billion, but during a recent board meeting, agency executives upped that estimate to $2.9 billion.

“It’s certainly a disappointment to everyone,” says Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff.

The voter-approved Sound Transit 3 tax measure did not disclosed the rising costs when placed on the ballot last November. The tax measure was one of the driving forces in supplying the transit agency with funding for light rail expansions and transit enhancements.

According to the News Tribune, the agency estimated a 25-percent increase in land costs, but that number is actually closer to 44-percent higher from original projections.

Construction firms are quoting higher costs. When the Lynnwood project was originally introduced, a local construction firm quoted $141 million, however, the same project now comes with a $248 million price tag.

The change in cost is due in part to delays with the federal government and their contribution toward the project, as well. 

During the Obama administration, the federal government was expected to deliver $1.2 billion toward the project. So far, U.S. Congress has appropriated about $100 million, with the remainder of the money contingent upon approvals from U.S. agencies.

Project leaders now hope the feds will sign off on the project by next July.

With federal funding in limbo, the agency is eyeballing ways it can save a few dollars.

Rogoff says the agency could buy less land around stations and develop simpler designs for park and ride facilities that would take up less space.

While the agency’s voter-approved tax measures are enough to accommodate rising costs, an increase in costs may limit future opportunities to expand rail service, especially with extensions to Everett, Wash., and other projects in the works.

See the original story online.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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