Project update: East Link Extension

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Project update

East Link opening timeframe update

Dear project stakeholder:

The Sound Transit Board System Expansion Committee today received a briefing on the continuing work to reliably set new opening dates for our extensions to the Eastside, Lynnwood and Federal Way. As you will recall, in August we let you know that our construction projects were delayed and that we were conducting a programmatic review to assess rail activation sequencing and time requirements to support the identification of new opening timeframes.

After undertaking a thorough risk analysis, today we outlined two possible scenarios to Board members for their consideration. More work and Board direction are required before we can set reliably updated opening timeframes. A blog post by Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm reflects the analysis undertaken so far and, at a general level, what the opening timing could look like under two different scenarios.

What is the status of work to address East Link construction challenges?

In August, we shared with the Board about East Link schedule risks driven by track construction quality issues with concrete plinths, or raised structures that support the tracks in locations where they are not resting on ties supported by ballast rock. These cast-in-place plinths are present along about four miles of the alignment, on the I-90 segment east and west of Lake Washington (E130 contract).

Since August, contractor Kiewit-Hoffman JV has begun removing the plinths and preparing for reconstruction. We are working closely with the Washington State Department of Transportation to ensure that the work performed does not damage the bridge structure.  

The demolition work is progressing from both ends of the I-90 segment and is very close to the contractor’s projected schedule. Reconstruction work for the plinths, begun in November, will meet in the middle, with the work on the approaches to the Homer M. Hadley floating bridge being last.  

Kiewit is also continuing to address a second issue, which we daylighted early this year, with pre-cast concrete blocks and nylon rail faster bolt inserts on the floating bridge itself. As we reported, the contractors are drilling out and replacing all the nylon inserts within the blocks to ensure their long-term durability.  

The contractor is planning to work six days a week, 24 hours a day, in 10 zones to accomplish all the required demolition and reconstruction work. Accordingly, the number of Sound Transit staff and consultants has been increased to ensure we have sufficient staff to inspect all the work. We have also increased training for the staff and consultants to ensure they understand the required tolerances and scopes of work being installed. 

For more information, please contact the East Link Community Outreach team at

More project info:
Get in touch: or 206-398-5300