Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (center) tours the future Northgate Link Station Image: Lizz Giordano

The Northgate Link Extension is on schedule and on-budget, but without a $1.17 billion grant from the federal government the continuation of the light rail north toward Lynnwood will likely be delayed, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said Tuesday.

Touring the construction site of the future Northgate Station with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, Rogoff said, “In 2016, the administration made a commitment of $1.17 billion for this project (Lynnwood Link); our plan and work now is about getting the current administration to keep to that commitment.”

Rogoff added the agency was “dumbfounded and disappointed” earlier this year when the new administration sought to zero out funding for light rail to Lynnwood.

Jayapal promised to do everything she can to “ensure that the Federal Transit Administration follows through on funding the Lynnwood Link.”

The future Northgate Link Station under construction Image: Lizz Giordano

“Our entire delegation understands the need to protect transit dollars here, and we are going to continue to make sure that we deliver as a federal government,” Jayapal said. “We understand we have a rough road to hoe to make sure we get these federal dollars, but I’ll tell you, I think our region has an enormous case to make for why this is a bipartisan necessity for transit in our region.”

Rogoff credited Jayapal, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressman Rick Larsen for securing $100 million in 2017 for the Lynnwood project. Congress has yet to approve a second installment of $100 million for 2018.

According to Sound Transit, the agency is in the final stage of the process of securing a $1.17 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement through the Federal Transit Administration for the Lynnwood Link extension under the Capital Investment Grant Program, also known as the New Starts program. A Full Funding Grant Agreement, scheduled to be executed in 2018, would guarantee the entire $1.17 billion grant for the Lynnwood extension.

However, the budget proposed by the Trump administration limits funding for the New Starts program to projects with existing full funding grant agreements.  According to the budget documents, “Localities are better equipped to scale and design infrastructure investments needed for their communities” and “federal resources should be focused on making targeted investments that can leverage private sector investment and incentivize the creation of revenue streams where possible.”

“Voters in this region stood up and voted to tax themselves to provide a path out of crippling congestion,” Rogoff said. “For that, they should be rewarded at the federal level, not punished.”

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (left) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal hold a press conference at the future Northgate Link Station Image: Lizz Giordano

The $54 billion ST3 measure (which does not include the Lynnwood or Tacoma Link Expansion projects) anticipated $4.7 billion of funding coming from the federal government.

The entire press release can be read here.

The Lynnwood Link Extension project hit a roadblock in late August when Sound Transit announced the project was $500 million over budget. Rogoff ordered a six-month pause to value-engineer the line and recover some of the cost increases — delaying the opening until mid-2024.

68 Replies to “Federal Dollars Critical to Delivering Lynnwood Link on Time”

  1. We better get Lynnwood Link done.

    Perhaps if the North had a staff with star power, that’d help. But then again I believe personnel is policy.

    Also helpful: Senators Cantwell & Murray and Representative Larsen earning their keep and bringing home our fair share of federal investment. We can always fire them you know…. and not getting our fair share of ST2 bucks should be blatantly clear as a firing offense. If that means a filibuster, that’s what it means.

    Let’s just get this done. Time is money, and money is time. Furthermore, Lynnwood Link is the jumping off point for ST3 and some serious Community Transit route restructures up here in the North by Northwest. We should be looking at what to cut… and then build it out later – like damn trees!

    1. You seem very confused about the role congress in general and individual legislators in particular have to play here. The decision is in the hands of Elaine Chao’s FTA and the Trump administration. Nothing in the authorizing legislation for these grants gives congress a veto over the FTA’s decision. The person the voters can “fire” in retaliation for has one name on it: Donald Trump. None of our representatives have direct control over that; there may be things they can do to make this slightly more likely on the margins, but it’s beyond their control.

      A filibuster takes place when 41 or more Senators seek to block a majority of the Senate from acting here. That procedural maneuver could not possibly be relevant here in any way.

      1. In the context of the authorizing legislation for these transit grants, choosing which projects are funded and which aren’t is precisely what “executes the budget” means. If you think there’s some magical thing minority party legislators can do to reverse this decision, you’re very wrong. If you want to argue Murray and Cantwell screwed up by voting to approve Chao, go ahead, but a) she was getting approved anyway, obviously, and b) there’s no particularly compelling reason to think any Trump appointee would be better.

      2. This whole discussion confirms my main point. Since, by careful design, it’s going to be impossible to figure out what, if anything, this Administration is going to do on any front, let’s consider whatever we can do without it as practice for the quake we’re going to get some day.

        But even better, since unity and cooperation are literally life and death in a major long-term emergency, maybe we’ll emerge with a lot fewer subareas. Preferably none. Same for “Separate Agencies” as excuse for inaction. These fractures are already doing more damage than a whole parade of “Big Ones”.

        If we can’t fill these world-deep chasms, which we should right now, let’s start rebuilding all our actual and institutional structures so they can flex and roll and still stay standing. And carrying passengers.


  2. “Hit a roadblock”?? That’s a funny way to put what amounts to a huge miss by the Lynnwood Link project management team as it represents a large percentage of the long-standing estimated cost of the BASE part of the project at somewhere between $1.5 – 1.7 billion in YOE$. I know ST wants to use the higher figure in the New Starts grant application of $2.4 billion in their narrative, but that figure includes the additional costs of the allocated portion of the maintenance facility, the fleet addition, O&M costs as well some $193 million in financing costs.

    This Lynnwood Link project revelation hasn’t received anywhere enough scrutiny. Maybe it’s time for some open records requests to determine when this became known. I for one would like to know if project planning staff and management knew about the cost escalation issue prior to last November’s ST3 ballot measure. Watching the blase response from the board members and chair Dave Somers at the last board meeting (which I watched online) frankly sickened me.

    1. On a side note, does anyone happen to know what the status is with ST’s annual financial plan for 2017? It’s usually published in June of each year but to date has yet to be added as an online document.

    2. So let’s stipulate that the staff knew before the ST3 vote. What does that mean? To you. Does it mean we should overthrow the ST3 vote? Should we fire the mid-level managers who didn’t raise enough of a red flag with management? Should we fire Peter Rogoff? Should the entire Board resign (the buck stops here, etc)?

      If this were a highway project — or a port or just about any other large scale construction project — a 30% overrun would be expected. That North Link came in so far under budget is only a result of the economic crash. ST got to take bids in a buyer’s market.

      It’s a seller’s market now, especially in terms of large-scale construction, in Seattle.

    3. I thought I would peruse some past presentations. In 2014, the estimate was $1.3M.

      It’s rather significant that it’s now $2.4M in 2017. That’s $1.1M more in three years. The original estimate should have also had a contingency of $200M, as a 20 percent contingency is pretty normal when doing early cost estimates for any construction project that hasn’t yet been designed. That puts the bad estimates off by a factor of 2!

      In the same presentation, it’s Interesting too that the 145th station is only attracting 2600 weekday riders in 2035 if 130th Station is opened and 130th is twice that at 5200. Considering that part of the cost increase is 145th Station real estate and considering that ST3 funds of 130th, the easiest obvious cost cutting measure is cutting back on the 148th monstrosity.

      Yes the new FTA can be mean to the region. Still, ST needs to dig deeper to understand why their cost estimates are this far off. Blaming it mainly on final design is being rather flippant about the estimation problems because contingencies should have been partially covering the difference in final design.

      Perhaps the most troubling element is that all of the new extensions may have bad cost estimates. With ST wanting a preferred ST3 alternative in the next two years, this needs immediate inquiring!

      1. Oops! The numbers i discussed are mostly in the billions! That’s a cost estimate going from $1.3B to $2.4B in 3 years.

      2. Yes, billions, which I knew is what you actually meant. I’ll just chalk it up to the wee hour of the night/morning. Lol.

        I’ve been following this project fairly closely since the North Corridor HCT planning phase from which Lynnwood Link ultimately evolved. Readers need to keep in mind that the cost estimations given in the project details appendix A to the ST2 plan included the additional costs associated with an allocated portion of the additional maintenance facility and fleet expansion, as well as O&M costs. These numbers were also stated in YOE $.

        I believe the estimate given for the base part of the project (N39) was based on the white (position) papers ST received from their consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff and put the estimate at $1.2 – 1.4 billion in 2007$. I believe that was updated in April 2008, the last update made prior to the adoption of the ST2 proposal. Per the long description of the project:

        “Long Description
        This capital project scope, and the companion capital cost estimate, are intended to include the entire project development cycle (agency and project administration, environmental clearance, design, all aspects of property acquisition, permits, agreements, construction, testing, commissioning and contingencies) from project initiation through the start-up of the revenue operations.”

        Additionally, ST updates all of the ST2 projects’ estimated costs in their annual TIP. So that’s also a very relevant document to review.

      3. Wow… so the estimate didn’t substantively change from 2007 until 2014? That’s telling.

        It amazes me how people obsess about ridership forecasts, which are easy to change by assuming things through TOD and pricing and feeder bus assumptions and transit frequencies. They will let just 1000 riders or 10 percent differences affect big decisions.

        Meanwhile, capital cost forecasts seem to be historically more inaccurate. I understand that spending money makes elected officials and senior staff nervous, but the hard truth about limited funding is that it must be right or the entire funding strategy collapses.

        If you thought about spending $500K on a home, and must spend $900K now, you would change the kind of home you can pick. The same question about sacrifices that a home buyer faces at times like that is what ST must face, whether or not they want to. Blaming FTA too much is misguided; the problem is more with the historical cost estimates.

      4. “….If you thought about spending $500K on a home, and must spend $900K now, you would change the kind of home you can pick…..”

        (following with the analogy) you should/could also look at the way you are planning to get that home….

        one of the things that stood out to me in the recent stories about the LynnwoodLINK cost estimates going up was that ST is insisting on looking to find a single company to take on building all aspects of the entire segment. I’m certain this makes it simpler for ST to deal with, both during the bidding & building, but this limits the list of potential bidders to only the largest firms — so there will be fewer bids (aka: less competition on price).

        hard to know for certain, but it would seem like breaking the build-out into separate elements & phases could have brought more bidders (and thus more competitive pricing) to the table.

      1. “Watching the blase response from the board members and chair Dave Somers at the last board meeting (which I watched online) frankly sickened me.”

        Not everybody is theatrical at Board meetings, that’s all.

      2. Dan;

        With respect I forgot what I said was OT, please remind me via DM or e-mail. Want to clean up my act.

        That said, yes too many who truly care – like you – can’t attend 1 PM meetings. I really think there’s trade-offs about the time…

        Moving along, I think it’s time we got somebody in charge of Lynnwood Link who wanted to get this done. The issues around Lynnwood Link are now being used to fan the flames of the right wing flaming heads of KTTH…

      3. There’s no lack of will to get Lynnwood Link done. There are a lot of complicated decisions to make and tradeoffs to balance.

        Some of what happened is costs coming in high on necessary project elements. Not much to do about that except pay up and push every subsequent element down the queue a notch.

        Some is scope creep on the projects. Those need to be looked at closely. They may be worth retaining. Or not. Lots for Snohomish County and the cities (some of which are in King County) to talk about. Every expenditure south of Lynnwood slows the expansion north of Lynnwood. But Seattle has already made a lot of sacrifices in the race to Everett.

        If Paine Field has to be 2037 rather than 2036 to avoid harming service to rail users between Shoreline and Lynnwood, I’m relaxed about that.

      4. Dan, no one said anything about theatrics at board meetings. One would think that the board members would be more engaged and certainly ask more questions in light of the revelations they were hearing that afternoon.

      5. I doubt any Board members were hearing revelations that afternoon.

        Board members get lots of briefings; it’s unlikely any of them were not aware. Particularly not the Snohomish County or North King members who would have been briefed most extensively about projects in their area.

      6. Some things I observe from the meeting:

        1. The construction contingencies in slide 6 are listed at 5 percent of construction cost, and there do not appear to be contingencies listed for other line items like vehicles or real estate. If the cost is varying so wildly, is 5 percent reasonable? It did just jump 25 percent in six months according to slide 5! Rather than ask what happened, maybe the Board should ask if the staff has allocated enough!

        2. It’s also interesting that the questions by board members came from those not served by Lynnwood Link. I’m surprised that none of them have come forward to say what they are personally going to do to address the situation, as well.

        3. The escalations in costs is potentially an issue with Federal Way and Redmond based on comments made by Rogoff in the presentation. Shouldn’t the Board be asking for cost updates for these too?

      7. Let’s get the facts out there. This is what ST’s Lynnwood Link Executive Project Director outlined at the Aug 24th board meeting accounting for the $517 million (YOE $) increase in costs.

        These are the functional variances:

        Administration, -$5.4M
        Prelimininary Eng, -$38.9M
        Final Design, -$20.8M
        ROW, +$101.0M
        Construction, +$511.5M
        Construction Svcs, -$5.0M
        Third Parties, +$17.3M
        Unallocated Contingency, – $43.1M

        Netting an additional $516.6M

        I feel reading many of the comments on here that there’s a tendency to scapegoat the jurisdictions that are being impacted by Lynnwood Link. For example, on a recent podcast it was made to seem that the additional costs related to tree mitigation ($32 million) was an add-on cost coming from the municipalities when in actuality some 79% of the trees planned for that mitigation are in the WSDOT ROW.

        The two big pieces of this $517 million increase are obviously the ROW and Construction elements (as shown above). That huge miss in estimation falls on ST’s project senior management.

        “But Seattle has already made a lot of sacrifices in the race to Everett.”

        Finally, I don’t find comments like helpful at all. ST decided a long time ago to build a spine and it’s hardly been a race.

      8. and drilling down on the numbers further, up to about half of the
        –by ST’s own admission–
        is attributable to an administrative decision.

        bullet point #4 of their announcement of the LynnLink cost estimate rise cites:

        “GC/CM Contracting — Finally, we are using the General Contractor/Contract Management (GC/CM) delivery method. GC/CM contracting methods typically result in costs that are 5 to 10 percent higher than a typical design-bid-build contract, but provide the key benefit of offsetting higher final design cost estimates by significantly reducing risks and costly change orders during the construction process.” **

        no doubt, it sounds like a smart move — but it also sounds a bit like out-sourcing ST senior management responsibilities…… and 5% – 10% of a $2.5B equates to +$120M to +$240M which seems like quite a bit of cash for a [questionable] administrative decision…..


        I’m not so certain it’s not costing the project more in the long-run. Making the decision to use a single contractor for the entire build-out limits potential bidders to a very few of the very largest firms.

        Fewer bidders = less competitive bidding = higher cost bids.
        [ potentially ]

        **ST doc cited:

      9. whoops — posting error.
        should read:


        “…and drilling down on the numbers further, up to about half of the
        [ “Construction, +$511.5M” ]
        –by ST’s own admission–
        is attributable to an administrative decision…. “

      10. Dan, regarding the revelation comment, that was stated as pretty much tongue-in-cheek comment.

        So, when were these board members first made aware of the Lynnwood Link costs escalation?

      11. The two big pieces of this $517 million increase are obviously the ROW and Construction elements (as shown above). That huge miss in estimation falls on ST’s project senior management.

        Um, the right of way acquisition increase is Peter paying Peter, since nearly every meter of Lynnwood Link is within WSDOT’s I-5 right of way. So basically the State is holding up the Sound Transit District (again) for other projects.

        Now it’s true that the station land acquisition costs have shot upward, mostly because the Cities served have upzoned the land around the station so the value has quadrupled. Unfortunately, Sound Transit couldn’t buy the land back when it was cheap because of the dive in sales tax revenues.

        So I would say that the very best “value engineering” is to chop the garages at 148th, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. Metro and CT can pick up the slack; after all a one thousand space garage is only about 20 buses worth of riders. You can buy a lot of bus hours for the $80 million that one of the monstrosities costs. And of course you then have an addtional 30 or 40 acres of land right next to the station.

        And, again, I would challenge you to put up or shut up about ST’s management. Propose some useful changes or accept that nothing that any large human endeavor does is perfectly planned or executed.

      12. posting glitch:

        that shoulda said:
        “…. up to about half of the [“Construction, +$511.5M”] is attributable to….”

  3. Meh. Fare-backed bonds could be sold, LID assessment-backed bonds could be sold, etc. The tax revenue stream now is so heavy ($1.4 BLN per year for four more decades) it doesn’t really matter. East Link didn’t need any federal grant money, and it’s five times as pricey.

      1. The taxes levied to build ST 1, 2, and 3 will be repealed when no longer needed for construction, just as tolls are removed from bridges when they’re paid off. There will be no “$47 billion” slush fund in 2060. Either they’ll geep on building, thus consuming the “surplus” or they’ll repeal the taxes

      2. Your assertions about the taxes are factually incorrect. I suggest that you read the 2016 Financial Plan, specifically page 8. The MVET (.3% at that time) is the tax that actually has a sunset provision. As such, the projections contained in this report reflect the MVET dropping off as a revenue source after 2028.

  4. One piece of value-engineering should be pretty straightforward: Parking garages may have to wait (which reduces the need to buy the land for which the market value has skyrocketed due to them being next to future train stations).

    Furthermore, if the federal money doesn’t come through, it makes sense to wait an extra year or two to get 130th St Station open at the same time, perhaps with 148th furloughed. (I still think 145th makes sense as a station location, but I can’t defend the current station design disaster any longer. It could stand a reboot, assuming no parking, priority to pedestrian access, and less impact on bus routes continuing in both directions from the station. The current design minimizes walkshed and maximizes impact on bus routes.)

    1. It makes sense just to delete the 130th St Station. That station is booked as $100M and it adds zero (0) net riders to the system per ST’s own methodology. Delete it (or “defer” it indefinitely) and you just shrunk the shortfall by about 20% — and that is nothing to sneeze at.

      Lynnwood Link will be a big test for Rogoff. He needs to focus on the details up-front and make sure he doesn’t let things linger just because they don’t get press attention. And he needs to hold the line on costly add on’s that every jurisdiction up and down the line will be asking for.

      1. My understanding is that Lynnwood Link budgets $10 million for accommodating construction of a future station at 130th St, and the bulk of the 130th St station construction costs will be paid out of future ST3 budgets. The station already has been deferred to the ST3 timeframe. Deleting it entirely from the Lynnwood Link budget would save only about 2% of the shortfall, while (presumably) precluding ever building a station at 130th.

      2. Also, keep in mind that ST’s methodology which “showed” 130th adding no new riders assumes a fictional world where King County Metro does not exist. In this real world, 130th will add many new riders, as has been explained on this blog many times over.

      3. @PhillipG,

        My bad, you are correct, 130th St Station is funded by ST3 and not ST2. I suspect the same problem will occur on ST3 though when the R’s attack/kill Federal funding for that. So we might as well get used to the idea.


        Yes, of course ST could make a case that 130th St has incredible ridership by assuming bigley shifts in Metro service patterns, but in almost all cases the FTA guidelines preclude gaming the application process in that manner. Assuming future changes to Metro that are neither planned nor funded is off the table. Such things are out of scope.

      4. The rules may be what they are, but assuming that when 130th is built, that Metro won’t run a bus to connect to it is still absurd.

      5. OK, Lazurus — so let me get this straight. You are no longer claiming that NE 130th will add no net ridership — you are simply claiming that FTA guidelines preclude using them. Is that your argument? That we should ignore what will actually happen (a substantial increase in ridership when the station is added) and focus only on something FTA is hesitant to consider?

        Look, no matter how the various agencies count the numbers, a couple things are clear:

        1) NE 130th will have higher walk up ridership than 145th NE. Even the report you are basing things on says that.

        2) Ridership on both stations will be highly dependent on bus service.

        3) Buses will serve both areas. Holy cow, Lazurus, haven’t you been paying attention to the changes in the buses the last few years? You can’t ride the 71, 72 or 73 to downtown anymore! Those buses were by far the most popular buses in our system, and they are gone forever. Instead, they shuttle people to a very inconvenient transfer at Husky Stadium. For a lot of people (probably a majority) it takes longer to get downtown. Yet Metro made the change, and people just live with it. Yet you think Metro won’t run a bus to NE 130th, even though the main reason they want to add it is to serve buses? Seriously?!!

        You are making increasingly bizarre and tortured arguments. If you are focused only on walk up passengers, then we should skip 148th, and only build 130th. If you are focused on connecting bus service, then it makes sense to build both.

      6. 130th Station is outside the scope of the Lynnwood Link federal grant except the stub interface mentioned. It’s too early to say what will be in ST3 grant proposals, and I think infill stations will be locally funded anyway.

        Metro did not have a long-range plan when ST1&2 were decided because of 20th-century thinking in the 1990s and tax slashing-and-capping in the 00 s obliterated Metro’s long-term budget.

        Metro now has a long-range plan, and it clearly shows the 75 rerouted to 130th St as a Frequent route, bringing riders from Sand Point, Lake City, and Bitter Lake.

      7. No, mothball 148th, which is and always has been a terrible location. Even a location right at 145th would be bad –though less so — because 145th is a full-diamond car sewer of an interchange. Pedestrians would die there trying to access the station.

        Even at 148th they’ll die accessing the station since the on-ramp to the freeway will be right next to it. Fewer certainly, but it’s still dangerous. One Thirtieth has much lower traffic volumes.

      8. it’s ironic to see the “145th” station migrating northward, since it’s heading towards the station option alternative which made the most sense: 130th–155th–185th.

        better spacing of stations, and the ability of East-West transit routes to connect (and underpass I-5) without getting all tangled up in highway ramps.

  5. Cut the 185th Station in Shoreline altogether or reduce it to infill. Budget crisis solved! Whoever deemed Shoreline fit for two stations should be institutionalized. Two stations in MLT or the 130th station with better access from Bitter Lake and Lake City would clearly make much more sense. Shoreline hates density and by the transitive property of urbanism, they hate Sound Transit, too. Put this sick pup out of its misery and get on with progress already.

    1. Not sure what you’re talking about bro. Shoreline has already massively upzoned all the land around the future 185th station and has major plans for building a town center in the area (since they currently lack a real one).

      1. They can upzone all they want, but it’s useless unless people are willing to sell and leave. The handful of folks who have assembled their homes for development won’t make that big of a dent. There are no plans to build a town center in either of the light rail areas.

  6. I’m with Richard and Henry. I wouldn’t cast any aspersions for accuracy of guessing. In 2014, my morning express bus from Olympia to Tacoma had pretty much a hundred percent on-time record. Don’t remember very many predictions that residential events in Seattle would leave 30 years of land use planning like the run-up to Hurricane Harvey.

    But months, days, really, since Inauguration Day show one thing about present Federal Executive Branch. Anybody in this country who wants to get anything done needs to treat its every immediately-self-contradicted-word like the deliberate diversion from massive malfeasance it is. And ignore it.

    And remember that budgets come from a different branch. Passed by people many of whose constituents, and their creditors, really like their contracts to build Lynnwood Station. Notice whose order to demolish existing health care system got ignored because of what elderly voters, who always vote, told their right wing reps.

    Personally, would bet money that current North Korean chief of state is our own’s biggest reality show fan. Whose autograph he’ll be waving before the year is out. While opening a giant hotel in Pyongyang. Where workers can’t sue for unpaid wages And saving Korean defense worries ’til the hotel’s owner convinces Congress to bring back the Draft.

    So let’s take a leaf. Design and prep for what we need, build what we can. However, some sample countermeasures: Start negotiations to 41, 550 in the DSTT, and add 512. And get 2-way all-day I-5 transit lanes from Everett south. All of which we’ll also need however long LINK takes. Or anything else.

    Mark Dublin

    And concentrate on project at hand in the present, with future work and plans as flexible as possible.

  7. And before it’s too late, crowd-source an editing feature for STB comments. Any way to add it to [OT] trigger mechanism?


  8. Hooray for Congresswoman Jayapal for standing up for a transit project that will mostly benefit somebody else’s district! This is the sort of ascendance above fiefdom politics that we need more of in Congress.

    1. It will have a ripple effect in her district if money that would be spent on Ballard Link for st3 is redirected to shoreline to make up for lost fed money for st2.

      Since Shoreline is part of north King, such a move would not violate sub area equity.

      1. Good point. Still, I was left with the impression that Congresswoman Jayapal was advocating for the general principle of having a federal partner in such infrastructure projects which keeps its commitments going forward, and not just her district’s piece of the pie, so to speak.

      2. The cities and counties sent a united message to Olympia for ST2 and 3: “All of it.” Our federal senators and pro-Link representatives [1] are following the same playbook. They understand it’s about *transportation* and the region’s commerce functioning, so it benefits more people than just subares or ST district residents. Our own Joe benefits, for instance.

        [1] I don’t know the positions of the other Congressional reps.

    2. I live in Jayapal’s district. I voted for her opponent, Walkinshaw (d), in both the primary and the general, but I have to say, since taking office she has won me over 100%.

  9. How about next time you make plans that DON’T require federal grant monies…

    Plan and tax accordingly so if you DO get federal money you can just give it back to the people :)

    1. We need high-capacity transit now, not in fifty years. We’ve actually needed it for thirty years, and the lack of it has caused severe distortions in our landscape, hardships and huge wasted time for people, and it has hindered our economic, cultural, and tourist potential and underlay the anti-transit/anti-tax crusade. (You don’t hear people in New York or Chicagoland saying we don’t need the subways or commuter rail because its benefit is tangible on the ground every day, whereas here it’s more of an abstraction that many people haven’t experienced for two generations.)

      Pay-as-you-go is ideal, but we should have built the high-capacity transit when we expanded the population and roads. Forward Thrust would have gotten a subway to the Eastside right when it was needed. When you don’t have this kind of integrated planning, you have to catch up, and that means spending now on the backlog of needs. Also, if we spent years raising the money beforehand, any legislative session could divert the money to another project such as highways or terminated the program and refunded the money, and it would never get built.

  10. A couple thoughts:

    1) Could this be built in two stages, with the first stage to Mountlake Terrace? There isn’t much at Mountlake Terrace, but it is does have an excellent freeway bus station. This means that Snohomish County buses can easily serve it. This gives them a couple choices. Either they terminate soon after, or continue in an express manner towards downtown. The former would save them a huge amount of money, which could be put into other service. The latter would give riders the best of both worlds. If traffic is bad, they have a faster ride downtown by taking Link. If not, they stay on the bus. Meanwhile, those headed to Northgate, the UW and other north end destinations would have much better service. Even if the express buses to downtown remain largely the same, there would be some service savings by no longer running buses from Snohomish County to the UW.

    2) NE 130th station should be added as part of any expansion to the north. It is obvious that the argument used previously is now moot. There isn’t a big pot of money going for this project “as is”, which could not possibly be used if we added a very important station. We are essentially starting over with the process, and we might as well add the station now, rather than wait to add it later. Not only would that be less disruptive, but we would get much higher ridership much sooner.

    1. The most likely scenario if money is short is ether deferring the extension or splitting it into phases such as Mountlake Terrace. That would revolve around North King’s vs Snohomish’s budget.

      130th is a good point that needs more visibility. Now that ST3 is approved, it doesn’t matter which order ST2 and ST3 projects are built, and they should be consolidated where feasible. 130th Station is a perfect example of a worthwhile and cost-effective consolidation. The only thing holding it back is the federal grant, but if the federal grant goes away then that argument goes away too.

      1. The Lynnwood Link project has for a long while been at risk because of the funding formula ST decided on quite some time ago relying so heavily on federal grant resources. Many of us who supported ST2 have been uneasy about this from the start and have tried to make the issue more visible while the agency seemed to understate the risk as the project planning and development proceeded thru the various gates. That is, until the bells were sounded back in March with the OMB’s budget release and subsequent statements from the new administration.

        With that being said, is there a scenario whereby the “money is short” under the existing timeline, should the New Starts grant resources not materialize? Does ST not have the additional bonding capacity to supplant the needed funding? Again, I refer you to the agency’s 2016 annual financial plan, which does not include the ST3 revenues and expenses of course.

        Deferral of the extension or splitting the project into phases (starting with the segment from Northgate to MT) would not go over well up here in Snohomish County. Taxpayers have been promised light rail to the Lynnwood TC by 2023 (now delayed) and have been paying taxes since 1997 with those promises in mind.

        Frankly I hate the idea of breaking the project up into phases a la Central Link and U-Link. I can just hear the agency’s claims of “delivering the project early and under budget” in such a scenario. Perhaps you could expand on what you meant by “revolving around North King’s vs. Snohomish’s budget”, as I feel it needs further clarification.

        “Now that ST3 is approved, it doesn’t matter which order ST2 and ST3 projects are built,…”

        I couldn’t disagree more with that point. Besides the ethical and legal considerations, such a drastic move would further erode the public’s trust of the agency, violate core agency principles and undermine the planning process already well underway for ST2 projects.

    2. Let’s talk about the “there there”.

      145th/148th: Not really any there there yet. Sure the 522 buses are supposed to come into there but they could end at Roosevelt Station instead. Heck, the trip may be faster for riders because that’s two less stations on the train (7 or 8 minutes)! Access for anyone at 145th/148th is pretty terrible too — peds, bikes, buses, cars — because of so many turns on and off 5th Ave; the lack of a grid over the freeway; I-5 is like a river there. TOD opportunities also look difficult for much of the walkshed.

      185th: Not a there there today. I’m not sure how far the TOD will be by 2024. It’s pretty low density residential.

      MT: There’s a garage today, but otherwise the station is low density residential with lots of recreational uses nearby that most transit riders won’t use.

      Lynnwood: There’s lots of pavement but not much else. It’s going to be a big TOD area but I’m not sure when.

      Compare this to the three Northgate Link stations, all with a pretty decent “there there” today.

      So what to do?

      1. What’s the Snohomish/North King split on the added costs? That will be telling on what needs to be cut, but I have not yet seen anything discussing this.

      2. I would consider dropping middle stations entirely before the end ones. Showing some fiscal austerity would be more attractive to the FTA to get a FFGA than to admit to a huge costing mistake and asking FTA to make up the difference. Since 145th ridership is already forecasted to be anemic once 130th opens, that’s the one to drop. Let ST3 build 130th and drop 145/148th.

      3. I would drop parking garages or parking garage spaces next. I’m not sure how many riders come from those spaces, but a serious cost-benefit assessment of their benefits is needed, especially with the extra land costs and extra garage costs. Alternatives to station access like an Uber subsidy or frequent driverless shuttles on the east-west streets our RapidRide or Swift terminals with driver layover spots and restrooms could all be attractive. There is already parking at MT and Lynnwood anyway, and dropping the new parking garages may allow for both stations to remain.

      I admit that I have an issue with ST investing in large garages in general. I think garages should be funded, built and operated by the communities in which they reside. If surface parking is considered too damaging to a neighborhood, then that city should fund the alternative solution — and be free to create parking pricing or public funding to fit those community needs. That’s effectively what we do in Seattle already, as the City regulates parking supply and pricing with on-street restrictions and meters at most of Seattle’s Link stations.

      I know that dropping project features will anger some residents and city councils. It’s like working for years to design your home then discovering that the builders can’t build it for the budget. I don’t think Daddy (FTA) is going to easily be able to make up the difference. Some serious cost-cutting appears to be needed to get to a FFGA.

      1. Great post. Some thoughts….

        #1 I’ve been trying to get information on this very subject. At present, I’m waiting to hear back from the Lynnwood Link public outreach contact person, a Mr. Roger Iwata. I agree that this information could be very telling.

        #2 I concur with this point. I would hate to see the interim stations eliminated but it’s absolutely critical that the northern terminus at the LTC be fulfilled.

      2. “Showing some fiscal austerity would be more attractive to the FTA”

        The issue is whether Congress considers transit grants worth funding at all, or whether they zero it out to divert the money to something else or cut taxes. A disagreement about one station in one city is completely irrelevant to that.

      3. The 522 BRT project is supposed to be completed by 2024. That is when Lynnwood Link is also supposed to be completed. As much as it would make sense for the region to send the 522 BRT project to Roosevelt, that isn’t what people voted for. It would also require the cooperation of Seattle and the north lake cities. Despite an agency designed to do exactly that (Sound Transit) I just don’t see that happening. The SR 522 project will end at 145th (or 148th). It would be bizarre if there was no Link station to meet it.

        Otherwise, I like your idea. I would start with this:

        Build stations at 130th, 145th and Lynnwood, without any additional parking. The nice thing about 130th, is that Seattle pays for it. Seattle has money, the other communities don’t. The other nice thing is that you don’t need a parking garage there. Likewise, with 145th — it is designed primarily as a way to serve the buses. Yes, they want a big garage, but that can be built later. Same with Lynnwood, and besides, they already have a big parking lot. If you build those three, you have the main stations of Lynnwood Link. All three work really well in terms of saving time (and service hours) for bus riders. None of the stations north of Northgate have very high walkup riders, but 130th and Lynnwood probably have the highest.

        The only drawback is that Mountlake Terrace gets nothing, and would likely throw a fit. But as you mentioned, the Mountlake Terrace station may be the cheapest to build, because it doesn’t have any new parking. So go ahead and add it.

        More than anything, what we need now is information. We have the right to know what individual pieces cost, so we can suggest proposals like this without guessing.

  11. Since 145th ridership is already forecasted to be anemic once 130th opens, that’s the one to drop. Let ST3 build 130th and drop 145/148th.

    Yeah, but remember, those forecasts are bullshit. They ignore bus service. They ignore it for 130th, and they ignore it for 145th. With the 522 BRT project ending at 145th, it is reasonable to assume good ridership there. Not as high as 130th (which will have bus service to a closer, much more densely populated area) but still pretty high. If you are going to drop a station, then drop 185th. I think your main point is the same, and I think it makes a lot more sense than what I proposed above (truncating in Mountlake Terrace). Build to Lynnwood without adding park and rides; look at which stations are the best bang for the buck. My guess is it is (in order) Lynnwood, 130th, 145th, Mountlake Terrace, 185th.

  12. ST Capital Committee meeting Oct 13, 2016. Budget staff members gives update on ST2 project budgets for 2017. Sadly, only two committee members were actually present for this presentation. Fast forward to the part of the presentation when the staff member discusses the “System Expansion Risks”(49:30). Noticeably absent on the slide and the discussion is Lynnwood Link. Why?

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