Sound Transit approves $122.5M contract change, will conduct more research

Aug 30, 2023, 9:07 AM | Updated: 4:18 pm

east link line vote Sound transit delay...

A train at the downtown Bellevue light rail station. (Photo: Sound Transit)

(Photo: Sound Transit)

It has been seven years since a ballot measure approved multiple expansions of the Link light rail, now two more years of planning and $33 million have been approved by Sound Transit as they work to find the best place to build two new stations.

The Sound Transit 3 expansion, or ST3, has been working to connect the existing light rail system in Seattle to the neighborhoods of West Seattle and Ballard, as well as the suburbs of Tacoma, Everett and Issaquah.

More on Link light rail: Sound Transit unanimously approves East Link starter line to open spring 2024

The Sound Transit board unanimously voted Aug. 23 to spend $33 million more and spend two more years conducting research before starting on rail tunnel construction and the construction of two new stations, including controversial stations in Pioneer Square and Belltown.

This change comes as a part of a $122.5 million contract change with engineering consultant HNTB Corp.

The consultants are considering different construction plans, weighing the benefits of the construction of a south Chinatown/International District station versus a Pioneer Square hub that would connect the new lines to the existing 1 Line that runs from Sea-Tac Airport to Northgate.

Environmental impacts of building the different stations, as well as consideration into construction disruptions and future ridership.

A spokesperson from Sound Transit clarified to MyNorthwest.com Wednesday that while planning will be extended, the agency does not expect construction to be delayed once it begins.

According to The Seattle Times, Mayor Bruce Harrell said he wanted to prevent what happened in the early 1960s, when Interstate 5 split and buried entire Seattle neighborhoods, destroying wide swaths of the Chinatown/International District.

King County Executive Dow Constantine has said that he wants to build the Pioneer Square hub, and also increase housing stock in the area by replacing the county jail with housing towers nearby. A new jail would be built in SODO.

The decision on where to build the stations is not being taken lightly, as Sound Transit expects 60,000 people will ride this light rail system every day once it’s actually up and running, but first minimizing disruptions to people and the environment needs to be considered first.

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Sound Transit approves $122.5M contract change, will conduct more research