A press release from Sound Transit.
As a Tacoma Dome Link Extension project stakeholder, you’ve heard about the Sound Transit Board’s ongoing work to advance our voter-approved projects in a challenging fiscal environment.
In early 2020, the Board launched a process called realignment to review options for addressing the significant affordability gap affecting our future transit expansion projects throughout the region that are not yet under construction. Most recently forecasted at $6.5 billion, this gap means that completing many of these projects on their original schedules is not affordable.
On Thursday, Aug. 5, the Board adopted a new flexible framework to support moving forward with projects as rapidly as possible. Learn more about the Board’s action in our Platform blog post.
Updated TDLE project timeline
The Board’s adopted plans identify 2032 as the earliest date we could open Link light rail service to South Federal Way, Fife and Tacoma.
Some projects in the planning phase, including the TDLE, have experienced non-financial delays in recent months. Many government and community project partners were forced to shift resources to addressing the human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and were justifiably unable to review planning and environmental documents during that time. When combined with our own delays, these delays in individual agencies and organizations had a compounding effect on some project schedules, including the TDLE, which faces opening date delays of up to two years even if projected financial impacts are eliminated.
Separate parking timeline
The Board’s adopted plan also identifies 2038 as the timeframe we can afford to open the South Federal Way and Fife station parking facilities associated with TDLE. The ultimate timeline for parking facilities will come into greater focus as we advance the environmental review process and project design, including examining cost-saving options.
Real estate, construction costs continue to surge
Rising construction expenses have led to cost estimate increases for many projects currently in early planning and design, like the TDLE. In early 2021, Sound Transit commissioned independent experts to assess the agency’s cost estimates. Their review of major projects validated that the agency’s updated cost estimates are within an appropriate range for the current level of project design, approximately 10%.
As design advances, we’ll refine project estimates for this and other projects in planning, drawing on recommendations from the independent reviewer. Sound Transit’s finance department, with the guidance of outside economists, will regularly update revenue and inflation projections, with the hope that recent improvements to economic and revenue forecasts continue.
Learn more about the realignment process and increased construction cost estimates at soundtransit.org/realignment.
Upcoming work to advance the TDLE project includes:
- Publishing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review and comment (scheduled Spring 2022). A Draft EIS analyzes and documents a project’s potential impacts to the natural and built environment, and it proposes ways to mitigate unavoidable impacts.
- Sound Transit Board modifies and/or confirms the preferred alternative (scheduled Fall 2022). A preferred alternative is a statement of where the agency is leaning based on information available at the time. It’s not a final decision.
- Publishing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (2024). A Final EIS includes responses to all substantive comments received on the Draft EIS.
- Sound Transit Board makes final decisions on routes and stations and identifies the project to be built (2024).
We hope you’ll continue to participate in our work to move this important project forward.
Questions? Please feel free to reach out to the TDLE project at email@example.com or call 206-398-5453.