A Common Roadblock Delays Two of Seattle's Biggest Projects

A pair of pivotal transit corridors won't be completed as quickly as originally thought.

By Benjamin Cassidy May 11, 2022

Construction on the Seattle Waterfront

Construction: not going away anytime soon, sadly.

Death, taxes, and municipal project delays.

Despite months of little downtown traffic to stymie progress, it seems we couldn't shake that last Old Normal certainty.

The Seattle Times recently broke the news that completion of both the Eastside light rail extension and Waterfront Park have been pushed back—East Link potentially to 2024, the Waterfront to 2025. And officials are citing the same roadblock for both.

A scoop from the local paper of record late last month revealed that, along with construction miscues, a strike by concrete truck drivers that ended in early April will postpone light rail to suburbia until as late as February 2024 (an official said that date was "premature"). Previously, in Sound Transit's February progress report, the agency had predicted a 48-day delay beyond the June 30, 2023 target debut of the train connecting Seattle to Bellevue and Redmond. "The prolonged labor dispute is undermining our ability to meet taxpayers’ expectations," the report noted back then, mentioning the Lynnwood and Federal Way light rail extensions as well.

Then yesterday, some more eagle-eyed reporting found that Waterfront Seattle had broadened the timeline on its Sound-straddling park due to the same work stoppage. Construction on the Overlook Walk and a new Pier 58, as well as some street improvements, will now linger into 2025. The project that former mayor Jenny Durkan told us in an exit interview would "redefine the city" was previously set to wrap in 2024.

The strike was the main reason for the holdup, I confirmed with Waterfront Seattle, but not the only one. Covid-19's effect on worker health and the supply chain have both slowed things down. Sound Transit, it's worth noting, also had to halt construction at the beginning of the pandemic for safety reasons.

So maybe these delays are a bit more understandable than the ones we were used to in the Before Times. But forgive us if we stare out at the Sound, Affleck-style, and wonder when that future Seattle we've been promised (and paid for) will finally come.

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