Nov. 5, 1996: Voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approve Ten-Year Regional Transit System Plan. The Central Link (University District to SeaTac) light-rail portion slated...
Nov. 5, 1996: Voters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties approve Ten-Year Regional Transit System Plan. The Central Link (University District to SeaTac) light-rail portion slated to cost $1.7 billion (in 1995 dollars) is to be completed by 2006.
August 2000: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) internal report notes that light-rail costs might rise.
Sept. 6, 2000: FTA asks Sound Transit for clarification on cost increases.
Sept. 7, 2000: Sound Transit tells FTA that light-rail project is $200 million over budget.
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Sept. 8, 2000: FTA forwards $500 million grant to Congress for 60-day comment period as required by law. Grant agreement includes estimated project cost of $1.6 billion and completion date of June 2007. No mention of possible cost overruns.
Nov. 7, 2000: 60-day comment period ends.
Jan. 11, 2001: Incoming Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Hal Rogers, R-Ky., sends letter to Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater asking him to defer entering into the agreement until Feb. 12, 2001, to give him time to understand the agreement and allow for review by the Bush administration.
Jan. 18, 2001: Slater notifies Congress that agreement is being revised with $1 billion increase and delay of two years. Assures committee chairmen that project is still “highly recommended.”
Jan. 19, 2001: Slater signs $500 million grant agreement at 8:30 p.m. after aides to Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks camp in his office all day. Cost of project: $2.6 billion, to be completed by November 2009.
Jan. 20, 2001: President George W. Bush inaugurated.
Jan. 25, 2001: Norman Mineta, former Democratic congressman from California’s Silicon Valley, becomes Transportation secretary.
April 4, 2001: Office of Inspector General, auditing arm of Transportation Department, releases audit of Sound Transit, blasting agency and lax oversight from FTA: “Draft agreement given to Congress for a 60-day review period materially understated cost and did not meet the intent of this review.”
April 4, 2001: Murray meets with Mineta and sends letter suggesting a timeout.
April 5, 2001: Mineta announces that Bush’s 2002 budget will include no money for Sound Transit. The agency announces it will hold $49.5 million appropriated by Congress for fiscal year 2001. However, Mineta notes that the $500 million grant agreement signed in January “remains in place for future years.”
Aug. 21, 2002: Mineta writes to Murray and authorizes release of the $49.5 million. He thanks Murray for her “tremendous work on this project.”
Sept. 4, 2002: Inspector General begins a second audit of Sound Transit.
Feb. 4, 2003: Bush includes $75 million for Sound Transit in his 2004 budget.
May 9, 2003: Mineta tells Murray during a congressional hearing that he had no reservations about Sound Transit: “I appreciate your work with the FTA and Sound Transit to bring them to where they are today.”
July 7, 2003: Office of Inspector General at the federal Department of Transportation gives high marks to Sound Transit, but expressed concern about the financial impact of Initiative 776, the Tim Eyman-sponsored measure that would eliminate motor-vehicle fees and taxes above a flat $30 fee. Voters passed I-776 in November 2002, but a King County Superior Court judge later ruled that the measure was unconstitutional, and it is on appeal at the state Supreme Court.
July 11, 2003: Federal Transit Authority submits $500 million grant agreement with Sound Transit to Congress for 60-day review.
Sept. 10, 2003: Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Oklahoma, chair of House transportation spending committee, writes letter to Federal Transit Administration expressing his “formal disapproval” of the grant agreement.