Light Rail to Federal Way Will Be Over Budget by Nearly Half a Billion Dollars

Comments

1

oh well no problem, just shake down tax payers yet again...

2

@1 Or wait a year and hope the economy crashes, it's in the down times that you want to be doing this kind of thing.

3

bite the bullet. it won't get cheaper.

4

Whose getting the money? Crickets or birds are chirping.

5

Ivy dear, who do you think is getting the money? The property owners whose land is being purchased, the contractors, architects, engineers, and workers who are building the thing, and the suppliers and vendors.

Or is there some sort of conspiracy that you'd like to lecture us on?

6

@5: All well and good, but that doesn't negate Sound Transit's culpability for its planning failures.

7

In 30 years when this project is finished "on time and under budget" we will be cruising along in self driving pods. It might make a great hike and bike trail.

8

@6:

How good are YOU at predicting how quickly and by how much property values can escalate in our super-heated market?

9

Anyone who thinks this is an outrage and thinks this is government corruption or stupidity has obviously never worked with contractors before. This happens in the private sector just as much as the public sector. Sometimes it's bad contractors, but more often than not it's simply unforeseen circumstances that arise. The world is an imperfect place.

10

@9, In a multi Billion dollar budget proposal sold to the public with the assured "we got it right this time" you get the all day sucker. None of Sound Transit projects has come in on budget or on time, even a decade late they lied and said it was on time and under budget, well we just moved the bar. And why not, we can suck the taxpayers as much as we want, there's no accountability.

The punch line in all this is by the time they cut the last ribbon this 19th Century train will be obsolete.

Enjoy your higher/increasing rent and taxes for decades to come. And don't forget to put a little more away to pay for City, County and State pensions coming up that no one could of foreseen.

11

It never gets cheaper. But the good news is, this will help lower home process prices (the commute shed gets bigger) and the value return is endless.

The NYC subway has been worth, over the century plus it's been around, tens if not hundreds of trillions if dollars, if you imagine how much the subway has "unlocked". NYC without the subway would have crumbled in gridlock hell. Manhattan rents would be the highest in the world, the city would struggle to attract young talent, sky high wages would make it impossible for small business to grow. It's be a disaster.

Is always worth it. $500m ain't shit

12

@11, This is not New York. Sound Transit is limited in both it's destinations and capacity. And I believe it will be obsolete before it's finished.

The New York subway system is currently falling apart and there is no money to pay for it. And New York's pension promises are bankrupt too, one of the worst in the nation next to California.

13

@10:

" None of Sound Transit projects has come in on budget or on time"

Right, except Northgate is on-schedule and currently under budget.

Oh, and the Bellevue Downtown Access Project came in under budget.

And the Husky Stadium extension came in six months ahead of schedule and nearly $200 mm under budget.

Angle Lake Station opened four years ahead of schedule and $40 mm under budget.

Broadway station opened nearly six months ahead of schedule and 8% under it's estimated $1.9 B budget.

All of these are easily verifiable with a quick Google search and multiple sources. So, as usual, you're full of shit, and don't know what your talking about. Either that or stop cribbing all your talking points from fucking Dori Monson, who may be the only person in Seattle who knows less about this than you do.

14

@12

Indeed, NYC's subway broke ground in 1900, just 8 years before the Ford Model T was introduced, making the subway obsolete. They should have seen it coming, too-- the onset of the personal automobile revolution was obvious to anyone paying attention at the time.

Weird how all these commenters don't seem to know their history, eh?

15

@12 this doesn't need to be New York. The value return is still there.

16

Oh yes, the New York Subway. That old thing. Does anyone even ride it?

17

Construction taking longer and costing more than expected is par for the course; ask anyone who's ever done a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or added a room to their home.

If the naysayers hadn't stood in the way, big infrastructure projects like this would have been done during the Great Recession - when land values were depressed and unemployment drove down labor costs.

18

@16 I think you can buy cheap/bad sandwiches there.

19

Like other projects in this city (the tunnel replacing the viaduct, the streetcar) folks are worried about the extra costs, without bothering to ask if the project was worth it at the original price. It isn't. As this article points out, this is for 7.8 miles of track, and three suburban stations south of SeaTac. No city, anywhere, has had great ridership with distant suburban stations. That is why so few bother to build things like this. They run express buses or put people on commuter rail lines. Very few people will ride the train from Federal Way, and most would be better off with improved bus service.

20

I lived in Federal Way. The busses run about every 5 minutes between the park and ride and the transit station and they are all standing room only. Then you get on the freeway and sit stopped in traffic. The train will be full. If there was rail to Federal Way a couple years ago, I might still live there.

21

Oh, and comparisons to the New York Subway are laughable. First of all, we aren't New York (and never will be). New York is enormous -- we are not. Second, go ahead and look at a map of the New York Subway. Now measure the distance from the farthest point of that expansive web of rail to the center of Manhattan. It is about 15 miles. In other words, the largest, most successful, most elaborate transit system in North America -- a system that carries almost 10 million people a day -- extends about 15 miles out from the center. Now see how far Federal Way is from downtown Seattle. Yep, about 20 miles.

While the New York Subway is exceptional, the basic approach is not. Chicago, DC, Boston, Toronto, Montreal -- all the mass transit systems that carry massive numbers of people all do the same thing. They concentrate themselves in the heart of the city, serving areas that are densely populated and close to the center of town. Oh, they usually have a nice suburban terminus on each line (complete with connections to buses and really big park and rides) but the ridership is driven by the way in which they make getting between urban destinations easy.

Unfortunately, we aren't doing that. We decided to take an approach that has failed, repeatedly, starting with BART. We have built out before building in. It won't be easy to get from Ballard to the UW, or Belltown to the Central Area, or First Hill to Fremont. But if all goes well -- if we manage to find the money to deal with these cost overruns -- it will be easy to get from Fife to Ash Way. Yippee.

22

@14 The Ford Model T replaced the horse & buggy which essentially serve the same purpose just one moves faster and doesn't crap all over the place.

Driver-less cars would change how the current road system works completely. Your comparison doesn't really work.

23

We need more public transportation options, so keep building it! However, I'm old enough to remember when the monorail project went over budget for substantially less, the politicians came in an killed it. What's the difference? Sound Transit/light rail is the anointed choice of our political establishment.

24

Arriving late to the discussion…

I see all these driverless-cars supporters coming out of the woodwork. Let's keep in mind that self-driving cars don't much change the economics of driving, for a region or for the consumer, and the autonomous-ness doesn't obviate the dependence on oil or the additional cost of the transition to electrics, which makes the economics even tougher. And the funny thing is, I'm sure most of the people who spring up to put forth self-driving cars as the thing that makes mass transit obsolete would be hard-pressed to practice what they preach. That is, they wouldn't be so thrilled about having to give up the aspects of driving that would make autonomous vehicles a game-changer to the extent AVs can be.

But of course, we all know, their interest isn't in the effectiveness of AVs or the ineffectiveness of mass transit. These pretend fans of self-driving cars' great fear is the EFFECTIVENESS of mass transit. There's a reason the Koch brothers pour money into campaigns against light rail.

Think of it this way. Thirty years from now, would you rather be owning property in a region that bit the bullet and invested in reliable, grade-separated mass transit system or would you rather be owning property in the region that turned up its nose at mass transit so that it could fully take advantage of the miracle of self-driving cars?

25

People should never forget that light rail to Federal Way probably would have been built and in place already if Mike Fucking McGinn, Mike Fucking O'Brien, Cary Fucking Moon, and the Sierra Fucking Club hadn't campaigned successfully to scuttle the 2007 RTID vote (because booga booga! It included highway expansion!) -- and if stupid green-ass "urbanist" voters hadn't rewarded these ass clowns with election to office (excepting Moon, thank goodness).

Well April Fool! All that highway expansion they told us was so eeeevil (167 and 509 extension) is getting built -- at much higher cost -- and so will light rail to Federal Way -- at much higher cost. Let's not forget who really raised the costs, and how they did it.

26

@24 Tell me how self-driving cars don't change anything. It would basically be a bunch of Uberpools constantly driving around the city picking up people and dropping them off at great speeds and perfect merging.

27

@24 -- Driverless cars would mean driverless buses, which would enable a dramatic improvement in service levels for a city or a suburb. But yeah, the fundamental issues don't change. It still makes sense to build subways in densely populated urban areas. It still isn't cost effective to build them in distant, low density suburbs like Federal Way. Change the freeway signs from "HOV 2" to "HOV 3" or replace them with HOT lanes, and folks like @20 could get to downtown Seattle much faster than when we have the train. They wouldn't be able to get to Fife very easily, but my guess is that isn't a huge concern.

28

Drid @26, sounds pretty darn expensive to me. Those vehicles don't grow on trees and they don't run on magic pixie dust. Those great speeds and perfect merging you speak of only take you so far. Kinda like Shaquille O'Neal going on a diet. However much weight he loses, he's still going to be a big dude.

And if that really is the game-changing vision you have in mind, where everything is just an automated Uber, be honest, you yourself don't even want that. And you don't have to worry about it because we can all be sitting here 40 years from now and we know it's not going to happen. I mean, I don't see us progressing that far down the path of perfectly efficient corporate-fascist rule.

29

Funny how that happens when you lowball the budget to convince the taxpayers..

30

@29:

They didn't lowball the budget; if anything ST has learned how to add in a pretty substantial contingency buffer. What they - and to my knowledge, none of the armchair project managers around here - aren't able to do is predict how much land and labor costs are going to skyrocket in a super-heated real estate development market.

31

@13. Although I enjoy the current light rail system, your facts are flawed. Sound Transit originally promised 21 miles from what we call Angle Lake to the U-district. That route was supposed to be finished by 2006. This is from Sound Transit' website under news archives section. If you consider Husky Stadium part of U-district then they were exactly 10 years late. If the actual U-District station eas their goal. Then they were 15 years late to get 22 miles of track. They changed their timeline goals and route several times, so it is difficult to follow, but it was NOT early or under their ORIGINAL budget. Also facts you can find on Sound Transit's website.
I don't recall specific plans for Northgate because it was always part of a phase 2 plan. It may actually be under budget. And congradulations to getting one right after 25 years since their start up as an agency.

The East Link tunnel is technically under budget. However according to ST2 documents, they were never supposed to get a tunnel. So the entire cost of the tunnel is more than ST2 estimated. They also took quality shortcuts on other sections of the East Link to make the tunnel work. But again, no, not under budget. Both Lynwood Link and Feseral Way Link are proposed to be done in 2024. Those are both 1 year late. It was promised in ST2 by 2023. There are many things that you cannot control in a multi year project, but you would think they could get it right more rthan just one time in 28 years. (I am speaking 1996 to 2024). Opinions of the quality of the system can always be argued for the benifit of the system. I agree it is a nice system. Except for the tracks by the freeway leading to Tukwilla, it is comfortable. But numbers don't lie.

32

ST1, ST2 and ST3 are collectively almost 6 Billion over budget. So far.

33

That's your tax money.

34

Meh. We're paying for the stupidity and short-sightedness of the Seattleites of the 60's who refused to vote for transit. That, and the contemporary stupidity of Washingtonians to consider any sort of income tax. So we put a whopping tax on our cars, a tax that everyone with any wherewithal evades by registering their cars outside the RTA, and all the professional hand-wringers wring their hands. (and all the amateur scolds come here to Slog)