The Sound Transit System Expansion Committee met yesterday and heard the latest briefing on project updates. Of note is East Link’s frustratingly sluggish progress, largely due to poorly built plinths, which now have to be entirely scrapped in the segment between International District and Mercer Island.
Mike Lindblom has more details in the Times:
Kiewit-Hoffman decided in late September, after mortar failures and a forensic investigation, that the best plan is to start over, according to Sound Transit. More than half the plinths were demolished and some rebuilds begun last fall, Deputy CEO Kimberly Farley notified board members in November.
Sound Transit’s latest timetable is to carry light-rail passengers across the lake by spring 2025. Demolition of the original plinths is nearly complete, and the track rebuilds will expand to six work zones this month, staff reported Thursday in an update to the board.
We reported last year that the construction mishaps had already added a full year to the opening. This recent development confirms that that was an overly optimistic estimate. The remaining saving grace for Eastsiders at this juncture is the momentum for a starter line, which may potentially open in 2024.
Construction overruns are typical in these types of projects but this need for a large-scale pre-opening demolition of trackway infrastructure is an abject failure. Increased transparency is a start, but Sound Transit must strengthen the accountability mechanisms it has with its contractors. Riders have already waited long enough as it is and should not tolerate much more of a remaining margin of error.