With a comprehensive realignment of capital projects delayed until July 2021, Sound Transit turned its attention yesterday to current projects where advances through project stage gates have been on hold since March. The Board must decide in coming months how to proceed on many of these projects in 2021 pending decisions on the broader program.
Earlier this year, the Board decided to pause advancing projects not in construction. That meant planning and design could continue, but projects could not advance into project development, final design, or construction. Some of the largest ST3 projects are still too far away to be affected by a near-term pause, but the staff presentation detailed more than a dozen where some work or stage gate decisions are being delayed.
Projects affected by the pause include several in early development. These include Sounder platform extensions on the south line. Those platforms were to be extended to accommodate 10-car trains by 2028. An operations and maintenance facility for Everett Link was to have started work later this year. Environmental work on Sounder access projects has been delayed. These include parking in Edmonds and Mukilteo which are not being moved to environmental review. Contracts have been negotiated at South Tacoma and Lakewood station, but not brought to the Board. In North Sammamish, a 200-car park-and-ride is on hold. The bus on shoulder program has been screened to a short list of possible projects, but paused further development.
Others are further along. Projects where final design actions are paused include parking garages in Kent and Auburn. Environmental work is proceeding for the I-405 and SR 522 BRT projects, but contracts are pending to authorize further engineering, including the BRT bus base in Bothell.
Two projects are ready to advertise for design-build construction. These are the Sounder maintenance base in Sumner and another parking project also in Sumner.
Several funding agreements with third parties are on hold. These include parking at Everett station in partnership with Everett Transit. Sound Transit’s contribution to Madison BRT is paused, as are contributions to RapidRide C & D improvements. In Kirkland, a contract partnering with WSDOT to build the 85th St BRT station and direct access ramps to the HOT lanes is delayed.
Beginning in August, the Board will consider actions to consider lifting the pause on some of these projects, and develop a budget for 2021.
In separate news, CEO Peter Rogoff relayed some hopeful news about legislation in the House of Representatives that would assist Sound Transit’s finances. The bill would permit the re-negotiation of existing full funding agreements to increase the federal share. Rogoff did not estimate the financial benefits of such legislation if it were to pass unscathed through the congressional process. But just two projects, to Federal Way and Lynnwood, already have federal grants of nearly $2 billion, so a significant expansion of that support could meaningfully ease the delays to future projects.