LIGHT RAIL: West Seattle-Ballard project will cost a lot more than expected, Sound Transit board committee told

Even as Sound Transit figures out how to deal with a revenue shortfall, it’s warning that future projects such as West Seattle to Ballard light rail will cost a lot more than originally expected. The ST Board’s Executive Committee was told today about what board chair Kent Keel described as “unprecedented cost increases”: Among them, the cost estimate for the West Seattle-Ballard light-rail extension have risen by more than 50 percent – it’s now estimated to cost more than $12 billion, up from $7 billion when the ST3 ballot measure went to voters. The numbers were part of a presentation to the committee about revised estimates for multiple projects. Here’s the slide deck:

The West Seattle-Ballard project overall is becoming “more complex,” ST’s Don Billen told the board; his part of the presentation starts 49 minutes into the meeting video. (You can read the accompanying memo to the board here.) These are still rough estimates, since the project remains relatively early in the planning process, but the increase is attributed mostly to the increased cost of property acquisition – since development has continued on the potentially needed parcels – and construction.

As an example of the former, the presentation cited the potential need for right-of-way on the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner, including the site of the two-building Legacy Partners project that’s now under construction, if that site were chosen for the Junction station (sites further west drew more attention during the public-comment process). The cost of that site, if needed, was previously estimated at $76 million – and now estimated at $252 million. (Board member Dow Constantine, the West Seattle-residing King County Executive, inferred underground development may look more attractive as a result of numbers like that.)

“While these numbers are sobering, they’re not catastrophic,” said CEO Peter Rogoff, promising that ST is still committed to all the projects. But overall, the increased cost estimate for West Seattle-Ballard (which includes a new downtown tunnel) and other ST projects is so dramatic that ST plans to hire a consultant for an “independent cost review” to be complete before April – as ST continues its “realignment” process, to decide how projects’ schedules will have to change because of the funding gap. (The West Seattle completion date already has been pushed back one year to 2031.) Board members are expected to get a closer look at the “affordability gap” when they meet for a workshop on realignment two weeks from today (January 21st). In the meantime, ST is still working on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle-Ballard project, due out later this year.

63 Replies to "LIGHT RAIL: West Seattle-Ballard project will cost a lot more than expected, Sound Transit board committee told"

  • Morgan January 7, 2021 (7:34 pm)

    If this is merely sobering hate to see what he thinks is catastrophic. Let’s keep in mind sunk cost fallacies, folks. West seattle needs far more mass transit access but I’m not really getting the sense light rail cost benefit anymore. Too much has changed, too much still to change in the decade before this opens, and too many competing ways to invest.

    In some places $5 billion is still a lot of money.

    • natinstl January 8, 2021 (11:40 am)

      Agreed, there is no way the cost justifies light rail to WS. The ridership won’t support that type of cost and it’s frankly a ridiculous number. If working from home also remains more the norm the cost most certainly won’t work with reduced ridership. And this is at this point in time, the cost of real estate will continue to go up.

  • Joe Z January 7, 2021 (7:42 pm)

    The big question was left unanswered — is a tunnel now cost competitive with the elevated alternatives? If so, this could end up as a big win for West Seattle if we get our tunnel. 

    • ZGondola January 7, 2021 (10:16 pm)

      Or… A Gondola? 

  • L January 7, 2021 (7:52 pm)

    Cancel this entire project.   The costs will undoubtedly ballon far past these New estimates.  What a joke!

    • Derek January 7, 2021 (9:01 pm)

      No. Cancel your car. We need trains by any means necessary. Car culture is dead.

      • natinstl January 8, 2021 (11:43 am)

        Some people use their cars to enjoy all there is to do in Washington-hiking, biking, fishing, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, boating, the list goes on and on. It’s why a lot of people live here.  I’m not sure how completely carless people do those things. I do use mass transit or did I should say to get to work downtown, but with working from home who knows if that cost will ever be justified with less ridership.  

    • DRC January 8, 2021 (7:48 am)

                       You are so right

  • TJ January 7, 2021 (8:00 pm)

    It’s really seems that they purposely deflate numbers up front to get more support for these projects. Anybody with half a brain knows property goes up along with construction materials, so not sure how that wasn’t budgeted in when this was going to the ballot. I predicted on here when ST3 passed that it would cost more and take longer than promised up front, and you can count on both of those getting worse still 

    • Anne January 7, 2021 (8:10 pm)

      Ya think?

    • AA January 7, 2021 (10:08 pm)

      Yeah, property prices haven’t gone up 50% (a parcel here/there that have been redeveloped have had large increases but the average is well below 50%).  Construction hasn’t gone up 50%. Engineers salaries haven’t gone up 50%. And like you said, some inflation was already baked into the cost estimates. It would be nice if the ST Board actually pressed them for details on the cost increases. This was underestimated plain and simple. Whether intention or not is the only question.

      • David January 9, 2021 (12:41 am)

        Your mileage may vary on why the cost of acquiring the property suddenly ballooned. Unfortunately there’s no law against well-connected developers making large donations to govt officials, then by coincidence their property gets selected even if it’s overpriced and a poor location.

  • flimflam January 7, 2021 (8:15 pm)

    Derrrrpppp we need another property tax levy!!!

    • 12B will turn into more January 7, 2021 (9:56 pm)

      Home owners here are taxed enough as it is, and for what? Roads are falling apart, city projects constantly go over time and budget, the WS bridge has been out of commission for 290 days, Seattle homeless spending has unfortunately done very little. We don’t need more property taxes, especially now with the pandemic and economics being what they are!!! My property taxes have shot up almost 7k in the past 15 years and as a city, there isn’t much to show for it. The original 7B estimate was likely underbid- that’s most likely how they got it. Without work even starting, it’s up 5B… if the tunnel is any indication, 12B won’t be the final cost- and you want us to pay for it in property taxes???? Plus, good luck getting most people (myself included) ‘give up’ their vehicles.. this is a joke… 

  • Jort January 7, 2021 (8:27 pm)

    This is very disappointing and even more frustrating, and it is yet another example of the Seattle Process hard at work to make terrible outcomes that nobody likes, all to satisfy a minority of peoples’ endless desire to nitpick and whine about things (tunnels! Magic gondolas!) for years and years as if their input about make-believe veto points makes any kind of substantive difference, all resulting in garbage outcomes.. An immediate way to solve many of these new “land acquisition” problems is to use existing public right-of-way currently allocated to the movement and parking of private vehicles. Sound Transit must take over the public land of whichever city streets it needs, kick the cars off of them completely and entirely, and then hold an election so that citizens can vote on funding more car infrastructure if they want it. There would be enormous cost-savings from having to buy up unnecessary additional land.. One of the great questions in American public transportation planning that must be resolved is why public transportation projects in America cost orders of magnitude more than equivalent projects in other countries. And also why new highways and roads do not have to run ballot measures to secure funding for construction or maintenance.

    • Morgan January 7, 2021 (9:13 pm)

      Jort I agree about the hidden costs of cars. I agree on process to death is part of the problem in Seattle and USA when it comes to infrastructure. I like trains.$12 billion is still a lot of money. There’s many many growing needs for scarce public dollars. Maybe the feds rain dollars on us as stimulus. We Still don’t know what telecommuting will be like after vaccine. We don’t know what travel is going to be like. Let’s take a breathe and look at this projects fresh eyes and yes. Let’s be realistic that tunnels and gondolas or magical solutions won’t swiftly swap as alternatives….those would hit the same buzz saw of reality of our inability to build fast and cheap. My question: Should  we be building in 2029 what made sense in 2014 when estimated for a third as much cost….and when the cost is tens of billions?

    • Will S. January 7, 2021 (9:50 pm)

      Disappointing and frustrating are good words to describe your relentless complaining about the same things as ever. It’s also tired.
      Many of us who support the extension of light rail to West Seattle have recognized this for years–even before we voted in favor of ST3: The elevated rail plan has always been poorly conceived, because it ignores the topography and the rapid densification of the areas it aims to serve.
      Now to salvage this lousy plan, you propose that ST completely and entirely “kick the cars off” the major rights-of-way that serve (or that should serve, if the bridge were functional) as the primary gateway for West Seattle. From this comment and from your relentless, boring, and unimaginative commentary, I suppose you mean a ban on vehicular access on Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Avalon Way, Genesee Street, and Delridge Way, if cars might interfere with Sound Transit’s intention of building a cheap rail structure along this route. Really, Jort, you should follow this terrible notion to its apogee: an at-grade track with at-grade stations. Few people would vote for such a folly, but I’d bet a shiny dollar that Sound Transit could still manage to waste a hundred million on a pointless mezzanine.
      Rogoff is right: these new costs are sobering, a bucket of ice water thrown on a sleeping drunkard. Since ST3 passed, Sound Transit has wasted time by the year, and now its stale financial projections are short billions of dollars–even before accounting for the sales tax shock of the covid crisis. It’s time for Sound Transit to wake up and take its first hard look at all the options, including a tunnel near the Junction, integrated planning of stations with revenue-generating high-density development, and a genuine focus on getting value for massive transportation investments (the last of which is, I think, something you and I could agree on).
      All the complaining about cars is just loser talk, and after this news cycle of official disgrace I can’t stand any more of it.

      • Jort January 7, 2021 (10:59 pm)

        No, Will, you seem to be characterizing my suggestion incorrectly: I am directly and aggressively suggesting we appropriate the streets currently used for parking and moving private vehicles, and build an at-grade line with at-grade stations, and ensuring that there are no potential rail/auto conflicts by taking all the cars off of them permanently and for all eternity with no exceptions. Put trains and train stations where the cars used to be. And then then the car enthusiasts can use the other 99.9 percent of public space dedicated to their cars to enjoy their fun driving outings. Resilient automobile driving fans have proven for nearly one year that they will go to great lengths to deviate from their normal driving routines to far flung locations (South Park!) to accommodate their passion for vroom-vroom-vrooming about in their fanciful machines.  And you are right! It should be very boring and does not even take much imagination to see that this is a very simple, highly cost-effective method of providing high quality rail transportation to the neighborhood! Unless, of course, you’re the type who is so unimaginative that they can’t see any purpose for our public land but its exclusive usage for the relentless conveyance and storage of little metal boxes. Indeed, Sound Transit has wasted years of time. Do we accommodate this by paying billions more to give to developers to tear down their 2-year-old 8 story buildings, or do we be better stewards of our money by reallocating readily-available public land for sustainable transportation. It’s a good debate. But to be certain; for those who do not want to spend a dollar more, we don’t have to and we can still get good rail here. 

        • chemist January 8, 2021 (2:24 am)

          At grade light rail kills bicyclists like Desiree McCloud and vision zero policies can’t have your desire for mobility result in deaths of vulnerable road users.  Your train brain disease is showing Jort.

          • Jort January 8, 2021 (11:59 am)

            Oh no, sorry Chemist, you must be mistaken. I don’t mean that cyclists and trains will be traveling the same path. I mean that the right of way will be used ONLY for trains. For me, at-grade simply means, “not elevating the train, taking over the streets, and removing all cars.” Luckily, there will likely be enough room on the sides of the completed fenced and separated tracks for bike lanes, afterwards. But there will be no crossing of vehicles or bicycles of any kind over the tracks in its entirety. I’m not sure why this concept is “train brain disease,” but I know the desire to get a good “ZINGER!” is very strong and sometimes irresistible, so I understand your impulse to be reductive.

        • RunningaTrain January 8, 2021 (10:51 am)

          Trains do not help the needs of: construction, emergency, delivery/logistics, multiple trips/appointments, picking/dropping large items, moving, heavy equipment, etc. Essentially the unhindered movement of goods and services.  In-city trains are an old world technology that do not solve our transportation issues.

          • Jort January 8, 2021 (12:07 pm)

            Just like in every other major city on the planet that prioritizes trains over cars, Seattle’s car enthusiasts will find a way to adapt to and navigate around their new, lower-classed reprioritization. It’s not complicated and, in fact, has already been proven to be possible with our nearly one-year closure of the main automobile route to the peninsula. Ambulances and delivery trucks aren’t stuck on the borders of every major city in Europe, sadly waiting for road space to open up for them. Cities reprioritize, they make driving insufferable, expensive and awful, and people adapt. It will need to happen here just as much as it has needed to happen in every city that honestly confronts its transportation infrastructure challenges. And yes, everyone will deal with it.

        • RunningaTrain January 8, 2021 (4:58 pm)

          Jort: can you please provide an example of an arterial with homes on either side like 35th banning cars and installing a train? I’m not saying there isn’t one I just can’t find one. I’m not sure I understand how that would work. How would someone receive packages for example. Please limit the condescension if possible in your response. It takes away from your points and makes your responses seem childish.

    • Brian Hodges January 8, 2021 (8:23 am)

      Jort – while I don’t disagree.  Under environmental review your plan would show extensive ‘impacts’ to roadway operations that would require extensive mitigation$ under federal and state requirements.  There’s not really a magic wand here to wave.

    • AvalonTom January 8, 2021 (12:21 pm)

      My understanding from talking to one of the ST engineers at one of the public meeting was that the train is limited to some maximum grade (I think it was 6%) This 6% was maximum meaning that the train was working hard to keep up and will move slow, be loud and inefficient, etc. This is the primary reason we cannot have at grade in WS.  You need to spread out the 6% grade over distance and that will require elevated track. Only other solution is trenching or tunneling. There is no magic here.I’m not surprised with construction and acquisition costs going up. Property values are skyrocketing everywhere. Just the cost of plywood has doubled in the past year.  The other day there was a story on the blog showing a sparkling new “Golden Tee” on Avalon.  Does ST work with Seattle planning department? 4 or 5 of the alternatives they are proposing run through the golden tee territory and yet they are planning on building what looks like a very expensive project just so it can be bought and torn down by ST?  Perhaps ST needs to buy that property now? (I’m assuming there are some rules against speculative property acquisitions, all this is so much more complicated then any of us arm chair generals on the blog can understand) BTW, I agree that free street parking is a giveaway to car owners, but I dont see were removing parking along the proposed route makes or breaks this project. One also needs to consider the needed access for heavy equipment, fire and emergency services, etc. You cant just shut down Avalon to traffic, there are properties owned by taxpayers there and rite of ways that are set in stone that come with the deeds to those properties.I will say it again, there is nothing light about Light Rail. They are trying to shove a bull throught a china shop. The only thing that ever made any sense to me was a tunnel. 

  • Derek January 7, 2021 (9:03 pm)

    We need to get rid of cars. So we need to pay for this. Get rid of things we don’t need in the city and move this to the front of the line. West Seattle needs a train like yesterday. Get light rail here fast! I’m a long time resident and I’m tired of waiting! 

    • Ws resident January 7, 2021 (10:11 pm)

      😂😂 life long WS resident here too— I’m sorry, but I’m never getting rid of my car- nor will I probably ever use the light rail IF it ever comes to fruition. Getting most people to give up their vehicles will NEVER happen, and that’s just being realistic!!! The cost just ballooned by $5 Billion, without the project starting- where do you suggest the money comes from? Hate to be a rational, but $12 Billion most likely won’t be the final cost, it’s likely to be much more.  Hate to say it, but given the cost, and the obvious need for another public vote (after the cost estimate overrun)- you’ll probably have to keep waiting 🤷‍♂️ 

    • Anne January 7, 2021 (10:29 pm)

      Well I’m a long time resident too-cars will always be here- eventually light rail will  be too-  just don’t hold your breath.

  • Mellow Kitty January 7, 2021 (9:38 pm)

    Shock. Surprise. 

  • Duffy January 7, 2021 (10:01 pm)

    The costs in this city are absurd. So what once was 7B is now 12B? It wasn’t like this transportation package was passed 25 years ago. There is so much wrong here. For 12B (and likely going to go up from there) isn’t EVERYTHING on the table? A damn slingshot that fires my SUV over to Interbay? With these costs I don’t fully understand the value of money anymore. These numbers seem fabricated to me (oh that’s right, they are).

  • Eldorado January 8, 2021 (2:43 am)

    I’m shocked. City of Seattle has never been over budget before. 

    • WSB January 8, 2021 (9:57 am)

      This is NOT the city of Seattle. Completely separate entity spanning parts of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

  • onion January 8, 2021 (6:51 am)

    We are entering a period of austerity due to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The light rail project is dead for many years.

  • CarDriver January 8, 2021 (6:59 am)

    Doesn’t Sound Transit get money from car tab fees? If cars go away where will the money come from??

  • wsfugee January 8, 2021 (8:14 am)

    I left WS so not sure I have any right to comment, still enjoy the blog though! By my poor math it is about $150k (so far) per resident to build the bridge. I think the money would be better spent just handing out the checks. You could buy a jet ski to get to work lol!!

  • Brian Hodges January 8, 2021 (8:19 am)

    Setting bridge aside for a moment, light rail to West Seattle never made sense.  Light rail needs commute destinations on BOTH ends.  Buses in mostly exclusive lanes that fan out to serve multiple destinations fit the West Seattle to downtown market perfectly.It was included for political reasons.  And here we are.

    • Joe Z January 8, 2021 (10:59 am)

      That’s not quite true, they did need somewhere for the Ballard line to go on the south end. Ballard definitely needs a light rail connection to downtown, there’s no doubt about that. The political component (in my opinion) was running the light rail up to the Junction rather than going south down Delridge which is the more logical option given the slope of the hill and the long-term plan to eventually serve White Center and Burien with the Ballard line.

      • Chemist January 8, 2021 (1:11 pm)

        Are there any designated Urban Villages that Sound Transit could reach?  The routes were selected based on hitting population centers (were many residents could hop on a train without it being a bus transfer) and Delridge is a spread out neighborhood.

  • Raymond January 8, 2021 (9:17 am)

    And, this is just the expense side of it. Wait until they put together the full impact of this higher expense along with the lower revenues resulting from COVID impacts. Nervously awaiting the results of the project realignment process that ST will announce later this year (I’m guessing 2036, 5-year delay).I understand the rationale for the higher expense projections. It’s a no-win situation. Figure this is a “worst-case” (ha, we’ll see) situation with the way the real estate market has continued to grow. You don’t plan for worst-case when putting together financial projections, especially for a ballot measure. Voters would have said, “Well, you’re planning for worst-case….you don’t really need that much revenue. I think I’ll vote this down and you can come back with something more reasonable.”Not getting this done is not an option. ST can’t change the reality that they have to operate in. Let’s understand what our financial reality is at this point, come up with the best plan we can and get it done.

  • Mj January 8, 2021 (9:34 am)

    Anyone surprised!   

  • Kram January 8, 2021 (10:36 am)

    The tax conversation is very important here. Many people do not connect the dots that property taxes do not just affect the ‘rich homeowners’. Renters pay property tax it is just not itemized out. Apartment buildings pay massive amounts of money in property taxes (connected to building value) which is distributed to higher rents. When property taxes go up, rents go up, everything becomes more expensive. I believe the future is fast moving AI vehicles that are on demand similar to an Uber system. It will be unusual to own a car. You will simply call one when needed and one will show up with no driver and efficiently get you where you want to go. Cars are not the problem its the humans driving them. Trains are not a solution we can count on for solving transportation issues. Cities with sophisticated transit systems (most major cities in the world, e.g. NYC, Paris, even Vancouver to the north) have worse traffic than Seattle.

    • David January 9, 2021 (12:53 am)

      “Apartment buildings pay massive amounts of money in property taxes”
      Look into Seattle’s MFTE boondoggle. If a developer wants full exemption from property tax, all they have to do is promise to keep 10% of their apartments “affordable housing”.
      Using the “housing shouldn’t exceed 30% of income” rule, you can charge so much for a studio that the resident would have to make $30 an hour… and you could still call it “affordable” and keep your property tax exemption. It’s a blatant giveaway.

      • WSB January 9, 2021 (11:15 am)

        Correction, MFTE – which we’ve covered before – is not a “full exemption from property tax.” The “residential improvements” are exempt.

        Example: One of the many West Seattle developments participating in MFTE, Mural Apartments (4727 42nd SW), with ground-floor commercial, is taxed on its land and the commercial spaces (valued at $5.7 mil) but not on its other “improvements” (valued at $41.9 million). – TR

        • David January 12, 2021 (2:28 am)

          Only being required to pay a little over a tenth of your tax bill may not be technically a “full” exemption, but I think an 88% knock-off is close enough in most people’s books. Especially considering that you get this for the grand public service of keeping just a tenth of your apartments down to a joke of being “affordable” housing (e.g. tenants have to make $30/hour to afford a studio), and you can charge whatever you want for the rest.
          Funny how things don’t work that way for the rest of us. “Hey, I picked up some trash on Alki last week, so I should only pay $24 instead of $200 for car tabs. Also, just so you know I’ll only be paying $1.20 for tolls when everyone else gets charged $10. And you can only charge me 1.2% sales tax from now on, too.”
          Too bad you and I aren’t wealthy enough to “contribute” to politicians and then get million-dollar tax exemptions. They get a heck of a bang for their buck… studies show they reap well over 10:1 the size of their “contributions”. :-|

  • Chuck Jacobs January 8, 2021 (10:56 am)

    Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhj, (deep breath), Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhjhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhocking!!

  • Wowza January 8, 2021 (11:51 am)

    Come on people,  do you really want to go to Ballard that bad.  Not worth the taxes they will add for this ridiculous project.

    • East Coast Cynic January 8, 2021 (4:23 pm)

      I would like to go to Ballard (Music and Food Festivals), to the University District (Street Fair), to Northgate (Kraken Practice Facility), to Capitol Hill (Music festivals), and to the Eastside (art museum, dining) without the hassle of driving, which is pretty much what you have to do to get to most places besides downtown in a timely fashion from West Seattle.  Some of us want the opportunity to use transit for reasons other than going downtown to work.  If Sound Transit needs to extend the timeline to get it done for us (5 years?), then so be it.  The population in West Seattle and Ballard will not remain static, and with such growth we will need a fast and convenient transit option to get people all over the metropolitan area.

  • Heartless? January 8, 2021 (1:45 pm)

     In retrospect, this kind of news makes a “no” vote on ST3 seem very wise indeed!

  • Argus January 8, 2021 (2:21 pm)

    Even without the overruns, this plan was envisioned for another era. Wfh is here to stay and no one is in a hurry to crowd together on a bus or train. New Seattle slogan for 2021: Defund Sound Transit!

  • ScubaFrog January 8, 2021 (2:23 pm)

    The US follows every other developed nation in almost every regard (naturally transportation is one of them).  I’m confident the Biden Administration, with a Dem majority in both houses with do something big in regards to America’s infrastructure.  If Cantwell and Murray are worth their salt, they can get the funds to update Seattle for modernity (that means light rail).  Moreover, the US could have high-speed rail as well, the rest of the developed world does.  9,000,000,000 are moved via high-speed rail in developed nations without 1 rail-related casualty per annum.  One could live in Portland, and commute to Seattle for work (and vice-versa).  Economically, transportation could be a boon and a great investment.

    • Morgan January 8, 2021 (5:35 pm)

      Great points…but I’d rather federal govt pay for high speed rail and I save my property tax dollars for tickets than $12bn light rail I can drive bus or water taxi already. This cost overrun is out of control and we shouldn’t just keep blindly marching down this alley.

  • Pigeon Pointer January 8, 2021 (2:30 pm)

    Sounds like property acquisition costs would match tunneling costs. Win win for everyone right.. Someone check the math. Here’s a Times article from last year.

    • Morgan January 8, 2021 (5:36 pm)

      Center For Transportation just released a study that shows over decades US spends like thirty percent more for tunneling over other countries…we aren’t very good at it.

      • Pigeon Pointer January 10, 2021 (12:31 am)

        ok so we take the original estimate and add 30% still cheaper and we have less variables aside from a pipe getting caught in the machinery. :)

  • PracticalTransit January 8, 2021 (2:42 pm)

    Thats about $120,000 per person in West Seattle, based on a population of 100,000.  It might be cheaper to just hire people to carry each one of us around.

    • Duffy January 8, 2021 (7:25 pm)

      Yes, for 120k a year I will be anyone’s personal Sherpa. Wherever you want to go, just LMK. Job creation, too.

  • Rick January 8, 2021 (2:58 pm)

    “Anytime you live in a society that can vote for their own benefits it’s doomed to fail”.  Or something like that.

  • 22blades January 9, 2021 (5:48 am)

    I have little confidence that even these numbers are realistic. As much as I want transit, I’m not into corporate welfare for the construction, developer & finance industries. The money & land grab is out of control & the city is complicit with their visions of “World Class” grandeur. The argument that this is dollars going back to the community is absurd when most of it goes to some construction firm in Texas or Florida. Just learned one of the businesses I did business got the building sold out from under him. he has no idea who the new owner is except that it’s a venture capital company from the east coast. There is no path to sustainability for his type of service in the city. He is done.

  • zark00 January 9, 2021 (1:33 pm)

    Jort is funny – the complete lack of understanding about how trains function, and the fanciful belief that some magic cities somewhere prioritize train traffic over cars is amusing.  Jort thinks people drive cars because they are fun, and has no clue how the infrastructure of our country, or any country for that matter, actually works.  It’s tiring, yes, to read the same silly made up arguments over and over.  Note how Jort trashed the idea of both a gondola and a tunnel??  Yeah, that’s someone who has ZERO knowledge of alternative transportation solutions and even less understanding of how traffic from pedestrians, bikes, motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks, and yes trains, actually flows through a working transportation system.  Jorts proposal is among THE WORST proposed ideas, world wide, in the history of transportation infrastructure planning – it’s documented – it’s literally a child’s vision of transportation. 

  • Julz January 10, 2021 (12:34 pm)

    The cost is astronomical. I wonder if this is something that we could vote on like we did with the Monorail. Things change and I honestly cannot in good faith support this project at the current revised cost knowing that it will only go up when our current lifeline out of West Seattle will be closed for at least another year (if we’re lucky). Sorry, but trust is earned and it’s only been eroded.

  • Martin January 10, 2021 (3:58 pm)

    The bridge failure showed how WS needs a transit alternative, but at what price? has developed a plan for a much more prudent transit option which requires very little property acquisitions and therefore can be built at a fraction of the cost and could be operational far sooner.

  • Jeff January 11, 2021 (5:05 am)

    Our taxes are being treated like Sound Transit’s personal bottomless piggy bank. Sound Transit knowingly misled voters in the ST3 initiative, and now they are asking to almost double their already over-inflated budget for the West Seatlle spur.  In 2016, 54% of WA voters approved the ST3 Proposition No. 1. However, in that propostion, Sound Transit misled the voters and the State of Washington on how the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax would be calculated. It was not a mere math mistake. Sound Transit knowingly meant to utilize a different tax structure than the calculation that was currently in law at the time of Proposition 1 voter approval. Sound Transit’s use of a 1999 version of a 1996 schedule can be found in RCW 81.104.160 – “…a motor vehicle excise tax imposed by a regional transit authority before or after July 15, 2015, must comply with chapter 82.44 RCW as it existed on January 1, 1996. WA State Attorney General’s office even admitted that Sound Transit’s irresponsibility a week prior to the WA state supreme court case 97195-1, formally themselves from this corrupt Sound Transit organization. WA State Attorney General’s office sent a letter to WA Supreme Court declaring, “The State will not be presenting at oral argument, which will be handled by Respondent Sound Transit, and the State takes no immediate position on the implications of this issue.” Now, with this corrupt organization again attempting to further gouge taxpayers, we must appeal to the WA state supreme court for aid in defending ourseleves from the powerful, corrupt Sound Transit Authority. By knowingly over-inflating the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, Regional Sound Transit Authority violated the False Claims Act. FTA contractors are subject to debarment and suspension from government contracting for knowingly failing to disclose such violations and overpayments on government contracts in a timely manner. The Federal Transit Authority and WA State must investigate Sound Transit’s conscious breach of FTA’s Ethics in Federally Funded Public Transportation guidelines. During court case 97195-1, Sound Transit admitted that their voter-approved 2016 ST3 Proposition 1 was a misleading and “inaccurate factual statement.” Sound Transit knowingly stole $125M each year so far. Now, Sound Transit wants to continue unimpeded to consciously steal billions of taxpayer dollars over the next 20 years. FTA requires contractors to abide by their policies for Ethics in Federally Funded Public Transportation. Every FTA grant or cooperative agreement incorporates a Master Agreement. FTA imposes certain ethics obligations on the recipients of FTA financial assistance and the recipients’ contractors. By law, recipients using FTA funds to award contracts must award those contracts to “responsible” contractors only. Under FTA ethical standards, the corrupt contractor Sound Transit is subject to being barred from future CIG appropriation. And Sound Transit’s current master agreement with the Federal Transit Administration is subject to be abrogated. As stated in the Federal Transit Administration’s Ethics in Federally Funded Public Transportation guidelines, the taxpayers expect FTA and its contractors to be careful stewards of our hard-earned taxes.  Sound Transit consciously acted to steal billions of taxpayer dollars, and now they aim to almost double the the amount they want to waste in our own backyards.  If WA lets this request for additional funds go to a vote, we must deny it. Deny it and demand a Federal investigation of Sound Transit. 

  • David January 17, 2021 (5:45 pm)

    Crazy idea… why does light rail require building another bridge, or digging a tunnel? For all that we joke about life “on the island”, it is in fact a peninsula.
    I admit there’s zero chance you can ever count on making bus-to-bus transfers, with Sound Transit management apparently thinking “accountability” is a 4-letter word. But with the speed and reliability of light rail, the extra 10 minutes incurred by transferring a few miles south would be a small price to pay – by comparison to a boondoggle that will mainly end up lining the pockets of contractors and their friends in local govt.

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