Mayor's Office

Durkan Halts Downtown Streetcar Project Pending Review

The Seattle mayor said there were "too many questions about the true costs of this project and the risks to taxpayers."

By Hayat Norimine March 30, 2018

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The future of Seattle's streetcar expansion project is now uncertain.

Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday announced that she ordered the city to stop work on the downtown streetcar project, pending an independent review, following a Seattle Times report that SDOT officials underestimated operation costs for the system by $8 million. That's 50 percent more than their estimated price. 

“There are too many questions about the true costs of this project and the risks to taxpayers, which is why we must put the brakes on this project," Durkan said in a statement Friday.  

The Seattle Times reported that the city now faces a shortfall of over $23 million for the project, bringing total costs to more than $200 million. 

Council members Mike O'Brien and Sally Bagshaw both issued statements supporting Durkan's move. The city will continue to work on earthquake-vulnerable water mains, according to the mayor's office. 

Former council member Nick Licata for years opposed the streetcar, citing qualms about the cost of maintaining the project that didn't offer mass transit. Council member Lisa Herbold continued to carry the torch; grilled SDOT officials about the project during a committee meeting in October, before ultimately voting in favor of providing local funding.

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