Sound Transit to review light rail tunnel

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Facing mounting criticism over a proposal to tunnel under Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for a light rail system, the Sound Transit board has decided to appoint an independent board to review the tunnel plan.

The board created the panel Thursday, responding to critics from a group calling itself Sane Transit, which has complained the expensive project will siphon off money for buses and other existing transportation systems.

The massive project, which will not be completed until 2006, will create a 21-mile light rail line from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, through Seattle’s downtown and under Capitol Hill and the Lake Washington Ship Canal. It will terminate in the city’s University District.

Though the tunnel itself was budgeted at $557 million, media reports have said that bids for the project have come in between $800 million and $900 million. The scrutiny helped prompt the review.

"There has been an erosion of public confidence in Sound Transit," said Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, a Sound Transit board member. "What we’re beginning is a process to restore that confidence."

The review panel, which will consist of engineering and financial experts, will be assembled by early November and will review the plan before Sound Transit completes its budget and contracts on Jan. 25.

Congress is reviewing a $500 million funding proposal for the central Seattle segment of the rail system. Despite the prospect of federal money, Sound Transit officials are questioning whether it would be cheaper to build a single, large tunnel rather than the two smaller tunnels first proposed.

Sane Transit issued a statement Thursday saying that the review panel is a "step in the right direction," but that it should review the entire rail system, not just the tunnel under Capitol Hill.

The group, which consists of politicians and private citizens whose homes and businesses would be disrupted by construction, also questioned whether the review panel would be truly independent since it would be appointed by Sound Transit’s board.

Construction on the light rail project is to begin in the spring.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

Ashley Morrison, left, and her mother Cindi Morrison. (Photo provided by Cindi Morrison)
Everett’s ‘Oldest Young Cat Lady’ legacy continues after death

On social media, Ashley Morrison, 31, formed a worldwide community to talk about cats and mental health. Her mom wants to keep it going.

Most Read