Project update: Federal Way Link Extension

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Project update

The Sound Transit Board System Expansion Committee today received a detailed briefing on continuing efforts to identify potential new opening dates for current Link construction projects, including the Federal Way Link Extension project. This email provides an update on work to open these extensions as quickly as possible.  

Since April, Sound Transit has been flagging potential delays affecting not only the Federal Way Link Extension project but also East Link, Redmond and Lynnwood Link.

“Within about the next four years, our carbon- and congestion-free light rail system will more than double from 26 to 62 miles and from 25 to 50 stations,” said Sound Transit Interim CEO Brooke Belman. “While we are on a path to fully resolve impacts of COVID-19, the concrete delivery strike and our construction challenges, we have more work to do before we can reliably establish opening dates. We will work tirelessly with our contractors to complete these extensions as rapidly as possible without compromising on safety or quality.” 

The Federal Way Link Extension faces an unexpected ground instability issue that requires redesigning a segment in Kent adjacent to I-5 in the vicinity of South 259th Place.

On July 19, an approximately 200 linear foot portion of embankment supporting I-5 slid downslope approximately nine feet, requiring a three-day precautionary lane closure on southbound I-5. The slope has been temporarily stabilized, and Sound Transit and its design-build contractor are working with the Washington State Department of Transportation on permanent design solutions that will address a liquifiable layer of soil that has been identified fairly deep below the light rail alignment. 

While it is too early to accurately assess the potential delay from the challenges described here, the Federal Way Link Extension revenue service date could extend some number of months into 2025. Continuing work is required to identify new project opening timelines, which must include time for activation work once construction is complete. An upcoming programmatic review will assess rail activation sequencing and time requirements and support the identification of new opening timeframes.

Identifying new opening timelines requires continuing diligence to mitigate project risks, as well as the aforementioned programmatic review that is now getting underway. Sound Transit will maintain intensive focus on these tasks and opening these projects as rapidly as possible without compromising their safety and quality. Action plans responding to challenges with all four of the current projects are summarized in a presentation provided at today’s meeting and a detailed memo.

Thank you for your interest in Sound Transit.

For more information, please contact the Federal Way Link Extension Community Outreach team at (206) 370-5568 or

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Get in touch: or 206-398-5465