Concrete supports need to be rebuilt, delaying Eastside light rail

Apr 14, 2023, 11:13 AM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 1:13 pm

light rail...

The Interstate 90 bridge construction (Photo from Sound Transit)

(Photo from Sound Transit)

Bad concrete and a failed fix to the supports that hold up the rails have forced the lengthy delay in construction on Interstate 90 (I-90), and Sound Transit doesn’t expect to open light rail across Lake Washington until late 2025.

This delay was caused by mortar failures in the 5,455 concrete supports on the bridge and has forced a complete restart of plinth construction.

Remember WB I-90 construction backups? They’re coming back

In an interview with KIRO Newsradio’s Chris Sullivan, Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm said more than 75% of the faulty supports have been replaced while the replacement supports have been approved and the installation process is underway.

“About 75%, plus or minus, have been taken out. We have the new ones. It took a while for us to make sure the engineering, training, and construction to do an inspection were all lined up to our satisfaction. It was recently approved,” Timm said. “Now we’re seeing how fast they can put them up. And once we see how fast they can put them up and maintain that quality, then we’ll know what is going to get done.”

This has forced Sound Transit to delay its Eastside Link, which will add 14 miles of new track and 10 new stations, with an original opening date of 2023 to spring 2025.

“Right now, we’re targeting to schedule so that we’ll be able to open that section of light rail in 2025, which is very painfully far away,” Timm said. “I get that, and we’re doing everything. We can do it faster, but we don’t want to compromise that quality,”

The agency is now looking into opening an Eastside-only “starter line” between Bellevue and Redmond in 2024, a year before it connects to Seattle. Sound Transit plans to open Bellevue to Redmond service in about a year.

Sound Transit Board’s System Expansion Committee was informed of the delay in a meeting in August, with problems like complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, the concrete workers’ strike, and unexpected problems with the mortar pads, rebar, and fasteners.

“It’s frustrating to take an extra year, an extra two years to design it right to understand what we’re doing, but it’s needed,” Timm said. “It really is needed, and as the environment has changed as our society has changed from what it was three years ago, pre-pandemic, to now, it puts a different lens on the decisions that we’re making and how we’re serving our community, how we’re connecting people.”

When completed, Sound Transit said passengers would be able to utilize “almost 40 miles of fast, reliable light rail, from the Eastside to downtown Seattle and Northgate and to Sea-Tac Airport and Angle Lake.”

The majority of people failed the KIRO Traffic driving test

Timm empathized with everyone looking forward to the Eastside expansion but emphasized the importance of getting the groundwork done right to prevent future problems.

“I would say that same frustration is shared inside the agency. We all feel the same way. We want to get it built. We want to be using it. We want to extend. We want to make sure we’re connecting up to Snohomish and down to Tacoma,” Timm said. “We want to get the spine built out. You will find no lack of that desire inside this agency either. And yet, as we build it, whatever it is that we build will be here for 50 to 100 years. It is the groundwork, the framework for all the mobility that we’re going to be building in the future.”

Chris Sullivan contributed to this report

Local News

Associated Press

6 arrested in alleged scheme to fraudulently collect millions in COVID aid meant for renters

SEATTLE (AP) — Six people from Washington, Arizona and Texas have been arrested and accused of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars of COVID-19 aid from an assistance program meant for renters, federal prosecutors said. U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, Western District of Washington, on Wednesday announced the arrests and charges of wire fraud and money laundering. […]

18 hours ago

seattle drug possession...

L.B. Gilbert and Frank Sumrall

Councilmember Nelson: Failed drug possession law is ‘not the War on Drugs’

The Seattle City Council voted 5-4 against a bill that would have given City Attorney Ann Davison the authority to prosecute people for drug possession.

18 hours ago

Seattle Home for Sale...

Bill Kaczaraba

Expert: ‘We will never see interest rates of 3% or lower ever again.”

The glory days of 30-year mortgage rates of  3% or less may be in the rearview mirror.

18 hours ago

rental assistance fraud...

L.B. Gilbert

6 charged in ‘one of the largest’ rental assistance fraud cases ever

Federal prosecutors call it one of the country's most prolific rental assistance fraud cases, with the culprits facing a 26-count indicment

18 hours ago

Boeing lawsuit stealing...

Bill Kaczaraba

Boeing accused of stealing trade secrets in new lawsuit

Boeing is facing another lawsuit, this time, the aerospace giant is being accused of stealing trade secrets to build a moon rocket.

18 hours ago

Seattle schools decrease gun violence...

L.B. Gilbert

Seattle Schools unveils new safety plan to decrease gun violence

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced several security improvements to help decrease gun violence across the district.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Concrete supports need to be rebuilt, delaying Eastside light rail