According to the P-I, the Federal Transit Administration is asking Sound Transit to set aside extra money in case tunneling from Downtown Seattle to Husky Stadium ends up costing more than projected:

Federal officials, asked to contribute to what may become a $1.9 billion budget, want Sound Transit to add $150 million in “contingency” money to its budget for the 3.15-mile University Link, with the Federal Transit Administration contributing $63 million of that amount and Sound Transit the rest. Sound Transit officials said the agency has enough money to put up its share.

“We want to make sure they don’t exceed cost estimates,” said an FTA official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not routinely allowed to speak to reporters.


The Beacon Hill tunnel and other work is behind schedule, delayed by problems excavating a station under the hill, difficulties controlling underground water and slower-than-anticipated progress completing the tunnel drilling. In February 2007, the job was shut down after a worker died in an accident.

The $279 million bid for the tunnel construction by the contractor, Obayashi Corp., was 15 percent higher than the engineers’ estimate, the federal official said. Sound Transit has used money in contingency accounts for the initial 13.9-mile rail segment from downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport to pay the added tunnel costs.

The agency now expects to pay Obayashi $305 million for the work, 27 percent higher than the engineer’s pre-construction estimate of $239 million and 9 percent higher than Obayashi’s bid.


But Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said tunnels are “the highest risk construction,” and the federal official said the FTA team monitoring Sound Transit’s light-rail construction noticed cost overruns in rail tunnels being built with financial assistance in Pittsburgh, New York City and Los Angeles

Read the full piece for more. Transit agencies are notorious for under-estimating costs in the public’s mind, so it always helps to keep the house in order.

3 Replies to “FTA Asks ST to Plan for Costlier Tunneling”

  1. Uh, the FTA shows good faith that it will even be built and the papers act like they just arrested the entire ST board?

    Yeah, that’s rational

  2. After reading this article’s portion regarding the Beacon Hill tunnel, it reminded me to ask if someone knows the status or update on when ST will be testing the trains on their own power on the Beacon Hill/Rainier Valley/Tukwila segment? I remember ST mentioned that it would be sometime later this summer…

    1. I’ve heard that testing with live wires starts around the end of August, and with dead wires before that.

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