Northgate Tunneling Contract
The highlight of the meeting was the approval of a $440 million contract for the tunneling from University of Washington Station to Northgate Station.
Before the meeting, there was some doubt that the Board would act on the contract, due to a protest from losing bidder Traylor/Frontier-Kemper. That all ended when ST CEO Joni Earl announced that she had received a letter from TFK the previous day that they would not pursue a rebid.
Despite TFK clearing the path, there was still protest from a couple truckers who had some harsh things to say about ST’s record on minority subcontracting. Elton Mason, owner of Washington State Trucking, complained that the winning bidder, JCM Northlink LLC, had used questionable and decertified subcontractors in its bid. Elton said he sent a letter to ST a week ago with his concerns, and has now filed a complaint with the Federal Transit Administration.
Eli Mason, Vice President of the Minority Contractors Association, echoed the concerns about decertified contractors.
Though it wasn’t mentioned by name, Grady Excavating, a prodigious recipient of contracts under the state’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program, was kicked out of the minority-contracting program over a year ago.
When the item for the contract approval came up, staff went through how the subcontracting process was working for Northgate Link. In particular, no actual minority percentage goals have been set on the overall project, as agency rules required that the disparity study from University Link be completed first. That study is due to the Board in a few months. Minority contracting goals are then set for each contract, but can vary from contract to contract. Federal regulations call for an overall minority subcontracting goal for the project.
More after the jump.
CEO Joni Earl chimed in that ST sets up events for contractors to meet prospective subcontractors.
Staff listed remedial steps ST has taken on contractor minority hiring since a dispute with U-Link contractor Traylor/Frontier-Kemper over treatment of African-American employees. Now, all bidders must disclose their past performance in minority employment. ST now has an on-site compliance officer for each contractor. The contractor must disclose all hirings, firings, and grievances, including ethnic classification.
The motion to authorize the CEO to execute a contract with JCM Northlink LLC passed without dissent.
East Link Update & Turnback Track
Staff gave a slide presentation on East Link. Several public-private partnerships are in the works, including one with Microsoft to build a pedestrian bridge over SR520 at Overlake Transit Center Station.
Issaquah City Council President Fred Butler was the first to jump in with a question on the proposed turnback track for East Link at International District / Chinatown Station. Staff showed a slide with the turnback track being in the middle of ID/CS, making it impossible to coexist with a center platform.
Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin asked about future stations that might have train-to-train transfers. Staff listed South Bellevue Station as the transfer point when light rail goes to Issaquah, and Bellevue Hospital Station as the transfer point when light rail goes to Kirkland. He assured Councilmember Conlin that both stations would be built with a center platform.
Olympia to Seattle on route 592
The Board approved an agreement with Intercity Transit that will result in route 592 providing six daily weekday round trips from Olympia to Seattle for two years, with new stops at the Olympia Transit Center, the Capitol, and Hawks Prairie Park & Ride. The new service is expected to generate 144 new daily boardings on the line. CEO Joni Earl quipped “We have seating capacity available on route 592.” Several board members chimed in with dreams of getting Thurston County and Skagit County to join Sound Transit.
Selling parking spots
Among the several other items approved without dissent by the Board was a pilot program for paying a nominal quarterly fee for a guaranteed parking space at one of four parking sites.