Cost of Sound Transit’s Light Rail Jumps by $460 Million

by Neal McNamara

(This article originally appeared on and has been republished with permission)

The cost of extending light rail service from the Angle Lake station in SeaTac to Federal Way will be about $460 million more than originally expected, according to estimates unveiled at the Sound Transit board meeting Thursday.

Sound Transit projected the cost of the line would be about $2.09 billion. Now it’s up to $2.54 billion. The main factors driving that increase: construction costs and land prices.

However, Sound Transit projects the Federal Way line will still be up and running on time by 2024. Construction could begin as soon as mid-2019.

The link to Federal Way, which was approved by voters in 2016 in the Sound Transit 3 measure, will add three new stations: One near Highline Community College, another along 272nd Street in the Star Lake area in Kent, and a third near the existing Federal Way Transit Center near South 320th Street.

The Federal Way link is expected to relieve congestion along I-5 between Tacoma and Seattle. The travel time from Federal Way to Angle Lake will be about 12 minutes, an estimated 36,500 people will be using the line by 2034.

Part of the construction of the line involves building new parking garages. The first two stations will get new 500-space facilities, and the existing garage in Federal Way will be upgraded from 1,200 to 1,600 spaces.

Many of the cost increases are out of the control of Sound Transit. Prices of commodities like steel and concrete have risen since original cost estimates came out. Sound Transit is also competing for about $500 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration.