Aug 22, 2022 - News

Several Seattle-area light rail projects will be delayed

A Sound Transit light rail train pulls into Mount Baker station. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

A handful of light rail projects will take longer to complete than previously expected — meaning hopeful commuters won't be boarding the trains as soon as once thought.

Driving the news: The East Link light rail extension to Mercer Island and Bellevue — originally scheduled to open in mid-2023 — is forecast to be delayed by at least a year due to faulty construction, Sound Transit officials said during a meeting last Thursday.

Meanwhile, a planned extension to Federal Way isn't expected until sometime in 2025, as opposed to late 2024.

  • Officials said a recent small landslide revealed soil problems that may require a redesign of part of the route.

Separately, the light rail lines to Lynnwood and downtown Redmond could be delayed four to six months because of the recent concrete workers strike, as well as pandemic-related supply and staffing shortages, the agency said.

The big picture: The Seattle area already lags some U.S. metros (Boston and Atlanta come to mind) when it comes to building its rail system.

  • Flashback: After King County voters rejected a measure to build regional rail in 1970, the federal government redirected almost $1 billion to Atlanta to help launch its MARTA system instead.

What's next: Officials are still working to finalize new opening dates for the projects.

Of note: The projects that are currently delayed are those voters approved in 2008.

  • Projects approved in 2016 — including rail to Ballard, West Seattle, Tacoma and Everett — aren't expected to be completed until the 2030s.

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