Sound Transit 1 ran twice over budget. What about Sound Transit 3?

By: Graham Johnson

Updated:

Sound Transit says much has changed in the 20 years since the first light-rail ballot measure.

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Those projects ended up taking more than twice as long as promised, and a new analysis by the Seattle Times puts cost overruns from the 1996 ballot measure at 86 percent.

That's actually a bit rosier than the estimate the agency itself uses. They say it costs twice as much as voters were promised.

A few years after voters approved Sound Move in 1996, it became clear the initial cost estimates  were wildly unrealistic.

Sound Transit lost federal funding.

"A new administration came in and got things on track and we've been delivering projects on schedule and within budget ever since," said Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick.

Patrick said cost estimating grew much more rigorous with the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in 2008, which is now halfway through its 15-year cycle and about 3 percent under budget.

Patrick said Sound Transit 3 includes a roughly 50 percent project contingency because at this point the designs are little more than lines on a map.

Maggie Fimia, an opponent of Sound Transit 3 who campaigned for the 1996 measure as a King County Councilmember, points to the original projects that had to be funded by the 2008 measure and still aren't finished.

"Folks need to understand that you don't get what you pay for with this project," Fimia said.

KIRO 7's Graham Johnson asked Patrick, "How can you assure voters that what they are voting for will actually be built?"

He answered, "This is the way you do it. You make sure your cost and schedule estimates are realistic."

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