Sound Transit has delayed the opening of light rail in Kent until 2026 from 2024, which means the agency will pay the city of Kent an additional $1.75 million to extend a staffing agreement. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit

Sound Transit has delayed the opening of light rail in Kent until 2026 from 2024, which means the agency will pay the city of Kent an additional $1.75 million to extend a staffing agreement. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit

Sound Transit to pay city of Kent $1.75M due to light rail delay

Contract for city staff time extended with transit line opening set for 2026 rather than 2024

Sound Transit will pay the city of Kent an additional $1.75 million over two years to extend a staffing agreement because of the delay to open a light rail line in 2026 rather than 2024.

The City Council approved the amendment to the contract on Sept. 5. The city and Sound Transit approved a development agreement in 2018 that identified project location, project elements, station design, development of surplus property, design review, permitting and inspection processes, according to city documents.

That contract was for $6.7 million to cover city staff time and fees. With the additional staff time required, the total cost will go up to $8.45 million, according to city documents.

“Sound Transit will pay a fixed fee of $335,000 per quarter for 20 quarters for staff time and fees related to the Federal Way Link Extension Project,” Derek Hawkes, city engineering supervisor, said during his Aug. 15 report to the council’s Committee of the Whole about the initial 2018 contract. “The last payment was due the second quarter of 2024 when the link extension was originally supposed to begin revenue service.”

Sound Transit will make two more $335,000 quarterly payments through the second quarter of 2024, followed by six quarters of payments of $180,000 with the final payment scheduled through the second quarter of 2026.

Hawkes said delays in the project have resulted in additional staff time needed to complete review of the project.

“These delays include impacts from Covid-19, world-wide supply chain issues, labor disputes, soil conditions and scheduling the opening with other Sound Transit light rail projects,” Hawkes said.

The soil conditions refers to a section along the proposed route in Kent where unstable soil conditions near wetlands forced a redesign to include a long-span bridge as part of the route.

The 7.8-mile extension will go from Angle Lake Station in SeaTac through Kent to the Federal Way Transit Center. Three new stations are taking form in Kent/Des Moines near Highline College, along South 272nd Street in Kent near Interstate 5 and at the Federal Way Transit Center. Each station adds parking for a total of 3,200 spaces along the route, according to Sound Transit.

Council President Bill Boyce asked Hawkes how the costs were determined to fund city staff.

Hawkes said the fee was negotiated a while ago to get to the numbers to help pay for about one-third of his time and other staff, including permit center workers.

“It’s a good deal for the city,” Hawkes said.

The deal made sense to Councilmember Brenda Fincher.

“The rates are going to be the same,” Fincher said. “This is because the project is taking so long and for us to continue as we have been.”

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