Light Rail to Lynnwood Is Behind Schedule and Over Budget

Comments

1
The original cost figures are based on the decade-old ST2 estimate and the project budget hasn't been formally set--that likely won't happen until 2018. Long story short: The cost of land and workers has soared since the initial cost estimate, along with more people wanting more features from the line. Please try to get the facts straight.
2
It sounds to me like she did get her facts straight. She presented the key information, along with links to reports that said basically the same thing you did.

ST can pass the buck, but it also looks like a fuck up. Consider:

1) Construction costs are up.Yes, but so too is tax revenue. That is just what happens in a booming economy. Remember the last delay in ST projects? It was due to the recession.
2) People want more out of their transit system, like decent bus to rail transfers. Maybe they should have budgeted for that in the first place.

3) The feds aren't giving us much money for this project. Again, they should have considered that. Lynnwood Link (along with a lot of other, similar suburban centric projects) are not great values. Ridership tends to be low, and those that do ride are not that much better off than if they took a bus. Compared to urban projects (e. g. Second Avenue subway) it is shit. Looking at this objectively, it is hard to argue that the feds should chip in. You need a congress (and a president) bending over backwards to placate suburban commuters if you expect federal grant money. Or maybe someone who figures what the fuck, might as well spend money on transit even if it isn't a great value since it sure as fuck is better than spending money on freeways. Unfortunately, we have an administration (and a congress) that just doesn't give a fuck about suburban Seattle or the environment (i. e. Republicans). ST could have predicted this, but didn't.

No matter. In the end people will forget. ST will revise their estimates upward (both in time and cost). Then they will manage to get things built on time and under budget (for those revised estimates) just in time for the ST4 vote. People will forget that the original estimates -- the ones people voted on -- were not met, and assume this agency is somehow magical in the way that it builds things.
3
@ 2,

First of all, a cost estimate is not the budget. That's why it's called an estimate. The post is seriously misleading in conflating these terms, since the actual project budget won't be finalized until next year.

Second, Sound Transit ten years ago should've foreseen that the (s)Electoral College would install a raving lunatic as president that wants to defund and destroy the government? I'd love for you to elaborate on how exactly they would've known that back when The OC was on the air.
4
Whiny small-dick boondock rednecks love their fucking penis-compensating TRUCKS and SUVs. They want more LANEZ for their imperial rides into the Urban Hellscape full of libruls. Trains are commie-socialist insults to their fading manliness.
5
I agree with @3. The Trump administration and the explosion in property value (the taxation of which has still not even come close to catching up with actual valuations) are both extremely unpredictable events, bordering on black swan territory.
6
Read my comment again. The lack of federal funding has less to do with Trump being in charge, and more to do with Lynnwood Link being a very poor value. Compared to urban transit projects, it is shit.

Now that doesn't mean that the feds won't help fund shit. They've done so before. But assuming that you will get a federal grant when anyone with any sense can see that this really won't save that many people that much time is overconfidence, to say the least.

As for the "explosion of property value" being unpredictable, sure. But again, you do realize this also increases the funding. Put it this way. If a property value increase makes it more difficult to build this, then wouldn't a property value decrease mean the opposite? If property values suddenly went down, wouldn't you be able to build your line for cheaper?

But that isn't the case. Quite the opposite. As everyone knows, Link was supposed to go to Federal Way a while ago but couldn't because ... wait for it ... property values went down. They couldn't raise enough money (from property taxes) and thus couldn't get that far. Basically, ST has trouble building things if property values go up, or if property values go down. I'm OK with an agency that acknowledges this -- that basically says we will tax people and try to build it as far as possible. But when an agency brags about being "on time and under budget" when they haven't been, I get a little tired of the bullshit.

I do wonder, of course, if they knew all this back in November, but didn't say anything.
7
@3, @5: yes.

And @2, sure, tax revenues are up just like construction costs are up...which means ST likely can absorb the cost increase (or at least a portion of it). It sounds like you think that by having higher tax revenues that somehow means the estimate wouldn't be off anymore? Those are two different things. Even if tax revenue made ST flush with so much extra cash that it didn't know what to do with it, they would still have had to show up to the meeting today and explain that cost estimates have increased. Apples. Oranges.

The bottom line is that the reason the costs are coming in above estimate are totally logical and reasonable (unlike cost overruns from other mega-projects in Seattle and around the country), and generally not due to mismanagement or error by ST: land prices have truly skyrocketed, as have construction costs -- much more than an agency like ST is supposed to foresee since they use long-term likely trends. Keep in mind that there will certainly be a recession (or 3) between now and the end of ST3, so there will be a time when tax revenues are coming in low but we perhaps are also coming in below budget due to lower construction costs (the opposite to now).
Of course, enemies of transit don't care (and would like to keep people from understanding) that the higher costs are logical and understandable in this case.

[Perhaps the one exception to the higher costs being logical and reasonable are the portion of the concessions to communities that are to placate NIMBYs...I don't know the specifics, but I'm guessing some of the concessions are to placate NIMBYs :p ]
8
People want more out of their transit system, like decent bus to rail transfers. Maybe they should have budgeted for that in the first place.

Maybe there was no reason to budget for that, over a decade ago when the estimate was made. If the number of bus lines expected to connect to the Link station was small enough so a bus stop outside the station would suffice, why budget for a full transit hub? To give anti-transit folks something to complain about?
9
@3,

There are more than a few of us who remember that the U-District station was supposed to be done in 2006 for billions less than it will ultimately cost.
11
@2 there's a reason in court you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Groover gets 2/3. Good enough for Meatloaf, but she failed to provide critical context. The implication throughout the piece is that costs are rising because Sound Transit has increasing dysfunction (with an assist from the Trump presidency) is part of what lead to the costs. But placed within the context of skyrocketing land and labor costs, it would have been literally impossible to accurately forecast costs at the time of the estimate.

Also, let's remember, these particular cost overruns don't just Poof Away - they represent dollars paid to local landowners.

Lastly, 2nd Avenue Subway is your comparison? That project is only, what, 60 years late and billions over budget?
13
@12 what would folks do after those 5 years?
15
@12, @14: Let's see... what you propose isn't scalable, exacerbates traffic issues, and accelerates global warming. Other than that, great idea!
16
@9, yes their are.

Here come the taxes.