Not so great news for Lynnwood light rail | KUOW News and Information

Not so great news for Lynnwood light rail

Aug 27, 2017

Voters approved a light rail line to Lynnwood from Northgate in 2008. Now there’s word the cost of that line is half a billion dollars over estimate.

Another surprise for local taxpayers: Sound Transit says the federal government might not pay its share. They’re not even digging yet on the line to Lynnwood.

But cost estimates are way up. Seattle’s rapid growth is forcing the transit authority to pay top dollar for workers and land. That’s driven the price up to $2.9 billion.

It gets worse: About a billion of that was supposed to come from the federal government.

Peter Rogoff, chief executive of Sound Transit, says those federal dollars might not be coming.

“That is why we’ve had to delay the project at least six months while we get a firm fix on whether the federal government is going to participate,” he said.

Rogoff says the money was supposed to come from a fund to help cities clear congestion.

But it’s not clear that program will continue. However, he says the light rail line to Lynnwood is not in danger.

Rogoff: “The issue at play here is whether the local taxpayer is going to fund most of it, as they are current scheduled to, or whether they are going to pay all of it because the federal government has left the building.”

Don’t expect a public vote to cover these surprises.

Future taxpayers will pay taxes for longer — possibly much longer — because of the Lynnwood line’s cost problems.

And of course it means the start of service on the Lynnwood line is already drifting further into the future.