Its first line only opened in 2003, yet the city has one of the highest rates of public transit ridership per capita in the US. The system continues to flourish and over the next four years it will triple in size, from 35km of track length to 100km, as more extensions are built.
Sound Transit, the public agency delivering these capital projects, has secured taxpayer support for rapid expansion through a series of ballot measures; most recently, in 2016, voters approved Sound Transit 3, a plan that increased funding to the agency by more than US$50bn (£35bn); it includes light rail projects scheduled as far ahead as the 2040s.
The Federal Way Link Extension project is one of the first to be built that includes Sound Transit 3 funding. This $3.1bn (£2.2bn) project will add 12.6km of track and three new stations to the Link LRT system by connecting the cities of SeaTac, Des Moines, Kent, and Federal Way. The project is by far Sound Transit’s largest ever design and build contract, and it is the first time the agency has combined heavy civils and stations with system work in a single package.
Mott MacDonald is the project management consultant in a joint venture with Atkins, providing resident engineering, project controls and scheduling, change management, technical support and oversight, inspection, and independent quality assurance. As the first major project in a bigger programme, the challenge is to develop a delivery process that can become a template for success on the following projects.
The delivery team has created a form and mailbox process to capture lessons learned on the project. It has also developed a browser-based digital solution to keep track of commitments made to the multiple agencies and stakeholders with whom the team consults. Project performance and stakeholder information is presented to the client and stakeholders through visual dashboards.
Creating a culture of continual improvement on the Federal Way Link Extension project will enable the client to move forward with certainty; the delivery process employed will become a template for future capital projects. Construction began in 2020 and the extension is expected to open in 2024. The project will bring LRT service to a new part of the region, providing local communities with easy-to-use public transport – improving access to jobs, housing and services. Ridership is expected to be 29,000-34,000 per day by 2026.