On October 8th System Expansion Committee received briefings on various capital projects. The centerpiece was a detailed review of East Link. The system is 85% complete, within the budget set in 2015, and on schedule for opening in July 2023. But there’s also some bad news.
Major civil engineering should be done in early 2021, and systems work by early 2022. Most of 2022 will be “pre-revenue” testing, and from September 2022 is 9 months of “float”. But some things are not going well.
The Redmond Technology Center garage concrete is cracking. As this was a design/build contract, the builder is responsible for this failure and will absorb the cost. But the work will stretch into next year.
Potential legal delays due to Mercer Island’s lawsuit about the bus interchange plan could also cause delays.
In better news, there is talk of an early opening for the South Bellevue parking garage, but nothing is decided yet.
And now for the irritating news: Link will suffer a series of weekend closures in 2021 to connect the overhead lines into the main system, branded as “PowerUp 2021.” There will probably be three closures in early 2021 for installation and two in late 2021 for testing. When asked why this couldn’t have been done concurrently with the massive Connect 2020 closure, Sound Transit cited scheduled delivery dates and the need for rails to be completely installed and tested prior to electrical work.
In other news, all other major capital projects are within budget constraints and on schedule for their planned openings: the East Link Operations and Maintenance Facility later this year, Northgate Link in September 2021, Hilltop Tacoma Link in May 2022, Lynnwood Link in July 2024, and Federal Way in December 2024.
One exception is light rail fleet expansion, which is having several logistical problems, including a Covid closure at the Sacramento factory. 22 of the new vehicles have arrived, and 25 are ready to ship at the factory. Lynnwood and Hilltop also have less budget slack than the other projects, the latter because MLK is in worse shape than anticipated, requiring more repair work.