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Old April 10th, 2005, 05:06 AM   #1
greg_christine
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Seattle Monorail Project inches forward

The Seattle Monorail Project has announced that it has received a refined proposal from the Cascadia Monorail consortium, which includes Hitachi as the vendor for the trains. The proposal was accompanied by a $25 million performance bond. The proposal is being reviewed to verify that it conforms to all contract requirements. A final contract is expected within 60 to 90 days. During that period, the terms of the contract that are being negotiated are to remain confidential. Following approval of the contract, there will be a period for public review. Also, the city council must review and validate the financial plan for the system.

The Seattle Monorail Project has provided the following computer generated image of a Hitachi Standard Type monorail train crossing Seattle Center:



The Seattle Monorail Project's website also features the following interior shots of similar trains in service in Naha, Okinawa, Japan:



The Seattle Monorail Project is required to build the full 14-mile system that was approved by the voters. This task is complicated by the fact that revenue from the motor vehicle excise tax that was approved to fund the project has been well below expectations due to a fundamental miscalculation of the value of the motor vehicle tax base during the initial planning stage. The following is the route for the new monorail including its controversial path through Seattle Center:




The following is an abbreviated timeline for the system:

November 1997: Voters approve the creation of a monorail authority with a budget to study a proposed 40-mile city-wide monorail system.

November 2000: Voters approve a budget to develop a specific plan for the financing and construction of monorail line.

November 2002: Voters approve a 1.4% motor vehicle excise tax to pay for the construction of the 14-mile Green Line Monorail from West Seattle to Ballard.

August 2004: Cascadia Monorail is the sole consortium to meet the requirements for submitting a proposal.

November 2004: A ballot measure to recall the monorail is soundly defeated at the polls by vote of 63% to 37%.

??? 2009: A partial opening of the monorail was originally scheduled for 2007 with an opening fo the full system in late 2009. This was later changed to a full opening of the system in early 2009. There has been no recent conformation that a 2009 opening date is still viable. Construction was originally expected to begin in late 2004 but is now unlikely to start before late 2005.

The Seattle Monorail Project has been tasked to also develop plans for future expansion of the monorail system. At this time, the most favored option for expanding the system is an extension at the northern end known as the Pink Corridor. The second most favored option is an east-west line from Ballard to the University District known as the Purple Corridor. The final option that is still under consideration is a line from downtown to the University District. This final option would be politically problematic because it would compete with both a proposed South Lake Union Streetcar and a proposed northern extension of the Central Link light rail system:



In the meantime, another consortium that had hoped to bid on the monorail but was unable to meet the bonding and liability requirements has offered to submit a proposal should the negotiations with Cascadia Monorail not conclude with a contract. The Team Monorail consortium includes Bombardier as the train vendor. The Team Monorail Bombardier trains would be lighter and would have a smaller profile than the Cascadia Monorail Hitatchi trains; however, some of the interior space would be consumed by large wheel wells that project above the floor level:



Also in the meantime, the Seattle Center/1962 World's Fair Monorail is back in service between Seattle Center and the Westlake Mall following a fire onboard one of the trains during the Summer of 2004. The World's Fair trains and their guideway are not expected to be compatible with the trains chosen for the new monorail. The existing guideway will be removed and at least one of the trains will be retired to a museum:



Also in the meantime, construction is underway on Sound Transit's Central Link light rail line from downtown to the airport, which is to be equipped with light rail vehicles from Kinkisharyo:




More information can be found at the Seattle Monorail Project's website:

http://www.elevated.org/

Also, see the Cascadia Monorail and Team Monorail websites:

http://www.cascadiamonorail.com/
http://www.teammonorail.com/

Also, see the Sound Transit and South Lake Union Streetcar websites:

http://www.soundtransit.org/
http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/transpor...ustreetcar.htm

Also, see the website for the existing Seattle Center/1962 World's Fair Monorail:

http://www.seattlemonorail.com/index.htm

Finally, see the Kinkisharyo webpage for the light rail vehicles being produced for Seattle:

http://www.kinkisharyo.com/st_seattle.html
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Old June 4th, 2005, 09:05 PM   #2
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The Seattle Monorail Project has announced that negotiations have been completed with the Cascadia Monorail consortium for a Design, Build, Operate, and Maintain (DBOM) contract. Full details will be published on June 20 following legal review. Features of the contract include the following:

- The contract will be for a fixed-price of $1.6 billion.
- There will be a $200 million contingency and reserve fund.
- There will be a $500 million construction performance bond.
- There will be a $50 million operations performance bond.
- The contract will include operation of the system for the first 5 years. There will be options for extending the operating contract for two additional 5-year periods.
- The entire 14-mile line will be built and will follow the route approved by the voters in 2002.
- The system will open by December 1, 2010. This represents a delay relative to the original plan, which featured a partial opening in 2007 and a full opening in 2009.
- The trains will be the Hitachi Standard Type walk-through design and will be fully automated.
- The trains will operate at 8-minute intervals initially. Eventually, the trains will run at 3-minute intervals downtown and 6-minute intervals at the outer ends of the system.
- Fares will be paid via a "Smart Card" system, which will be used jointly by transit services throughout the Seattle metropolitan area.
- The system will open with 16 stations with provision for the construction of three additional stations.
- The station at 2nd & Madison is included in the contract and will be built when the Federal Reserve Bank vacates the site.
- Stations at 35th & Avalon and Elliott & Mercer will be built following the opening of the system if funds are available from the contingency and reserve fund.
- The station designs have been changed to reduce costs. The stations will not be completely closed to the weather though they will have roofs and protection from the wind.
- The contract does not cover the cost of relocating utilities.

The next steps are for the contract to be approved by the Board of the Seattle Monorail Project. The plan is then to be reviewed in a series of public meetings and approved by the City Council. The City Council must also approve an independent financial review of the project. Finally, there must be a successful bond issue to fund the construction of the system.

For more information, see the websites of the Seattle Monorail Project and Cascadia Monorail:

http://www.elevated.org/
http://www.cascadiamonorail.com/
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Old June 4th, 2005, 09:30 PM   #3
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Other news items that impact the monorail include the following:

The front runners for future expansion of the monorail are the Pink North Corridor (A.K.A. Green Line Extension) and the Purple Corridor. The Rainbow Corridor between downtown and the University District is no longer under serious consideration:


Plans are proceeding for the South Lake Union Streetcar, which would run from the southeast shore of lake union to near the monorail station on the north side of Westlake Mall. A financing scheme for the project has not yet been finalized. No vendor for the streetcars has yet been chosen; however, publicity materials show the same Skoda streetcars as used in Tacoma and Portland:



The future looks increasingly bleak for the George Benson Streetcar along Seattle's waterfront. The existing maintenance barn is to be demolished to make way for a sculpture garden. The port authority offered an alternative site for the maintenance barn; however, the line would have to be closed in a few years anyway due to a major road construction project. A solution is desired that would preserve the George Benson Streetcar and connect it to the South Lake Union Streetcar; however, there is no way to readily accomplish this:



For more information, see the following websites:

Seattle Monorail Project:
http://www.elevated.org/

South Lake Union Streetcar:
http://www.buildthestreetcar.org/
http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/transpor...ustreetcar.htm

George Benson Waterfront Streetcar:
http://transit.metrokc.gov/tops/bus/...streetcar.html
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Old June 5th, 2005, 12:46 AM   #4
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Thanks for the updates.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 01:29 AM   #5
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Sounds good!
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Old June 5th, 2005, 03:18 AM   #6
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Nice to know Seattle if FINALLY proceeding with its rapid transit lines. That said, I still think 41.5 bil is outrageous for a 14 mile LRT line.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 04:53 AM   #7
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Well, that is what you get for tunneling. At least for the city of Seattle, the tunneling did not result from their creme de la creme lobbying.
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Old June 5th, 2005, 07:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssiguy2
Nice to know Seattle if FINALLY proceeding with its rapid transit lines. That said, I still think 41.5 bil is outrageous for a 14 mile LRT line.

US$41.5 billion?!!! you mean $4.15 billion right?
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Old June 5th, 2005, 08:07 AM   #9
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eh? it says it's currently $2 billion for the 14 mile light rail, who said it's $4.15 billion?
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Old June 5th, 2005, 08:25 AM   #10
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Great news!
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Old June 5th, 2005, 06:08 PM   #11
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Regarding the cost of the first 14 miles of Seattle's Central Link light rail line, I've seen numbers ranging from $2.1 billion to $2.4 billion. For the 1.7 mile extension to the airport, Sound Transit's portion of the bill is expected to be $225 million. There are an additional $75 million in road improvements required that would be paid for by agencies other than Sound Transit.

For the first 14 miles of Central Link, there is one major new tunnel required through Beacon Hill. That tunnel is about one mile long. There are also changes required to the existing downtown bus tunnel including a stub tunnel extension that will be used to reverse the direction of the trains.

The proposed northern extension of Central Link to the University District and Northgate will be mostly in a tunnel. The projected cost for the civil works for the 8 mile extension is in excess of $2 billion. This does not include the cost of administration, engineering, trains, financing, etc...
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:25 AM   #12
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http://www.metrokc.gov/exec/news/200...ilPurchase.htm
May 31, 2005

King County takes first step to purchase rail corridor
King County Executive Ron Sims, King County Council Chair Larry Phillips, Budget and Fiscal Management Committee Chair Larry Gossett and Natural Resources and Utilities Committee Chair Carolyn Edmonds today took action to secure earnest money for purchasing the 47 mile Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) eastside rail corridor. The County has signed an exclusive agreement with BNSF to negotiate for four months acquisition of the rail corridor.

Sims recently announced his intention to purchase the corridor and said his "priority is to use the corridor for a trail, though there is room for mixed uses along the corridor. I will spend the next several months meeting with city representatives and hearing from the public about how they would like to see the corridor used. The most important thing now is to get the corridor into public ownership. That's the only way to preserve public choice."

The earnest money would go toward the cost of acquisition if an agreement on a fair price can be reached. If an agreement cannot be reached, nearly all of the money would be returned to the county. Sims is seeking $3.8 million, a $3.5 million deposit toward the costs of land and property interests and the remainder for directly related acquisition costs such as appraisals, title documents, staff costs for negotiations and legal and administrative costs.

"The corridor has tremendous possibilities for a number of public uses," said Phillips. "We need to keep the community involved in deciding what to do with the corridor. Purchasing it now is the only way to keep all possibilities open for future use."

"This project will receive fair and critical review by the Budget Committee," said Councilmember Gossett. "No decisions about the use of the line will be made without a full and thorough regional discussion that involves all affected cities and parties."

"This acquisition has the potential to transform our regional trail network into one of the finest systems in the nation," said Edmonds. "Regional trails offer tremendous health and recreation benefits, and can be an important means of alternative transportation."

Last week, the Puget Sound Regional Council approved $380,000 for a consultant experienced in the legalities and public engagement around railway acquisitions and to assist the county with rail corridor preservation requirements.

The BNSF railroad right of way is a contiguous property approximately 100 feet wide that stretches from the north end of Renton into the City of Snohomish. The regional trail system now offers over 100 miles of paved and nearly 70 miles of unpaved trails. This link would help create a seamless regional trail system.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Old June 6th, 2005, 12:24 PM   #13
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Hopefully this will eliminate some of you cars, I notice that Seattle has way to many cars and way to much traffic for a city of its size.

Im glad Seattle is finally getting rapid transit, although like iv said befor im not a big fan of the monorail system, it seems unproven outside of theme parks.

Whats the expected date of operation?
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Old June 6th, 2005, 07:05 PM   #14
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It's about time (i say)

I am totally excited for this. As I am moving there very soon.

I am glad they are at least trying to deal with the whole overpopulation thing.

Even if its going to cost billions :-\
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Old June 8th, 2005, 02:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazyjoeda
Hopefully this will eliminate some of you cars, I notice that Seattle has way to many cars and way to much traffic for a city of its size.

Im glad Seattle is finally getting rapid transit, although like iv said befor im not a big fan of the monorail system, it seems unproven outside of theme parks.

Whats the expected date of operation?
The current monorail expected completion date would be Dec 2010, if it all goes well they could start construction late 2005.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 06:39 AM   #16
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Yes, 2bil.
This is what I get for not proof reading my entry..............................D'OH!
Meanwhile back at the conversation.
That 2bil is way to much for 14mile LRT, that $150mil/mile. That is WAY above the LRT average. Most come in between $50 to $100mil. I have never even heard of an LRT for that price. For that price you could nearly get a subway. Small wonder there has been so much opposition over the years.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 06:43 AM   #17
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^ Well at least they got to vote on it. The people of Greater Vancouver didn't really have much choice on RAV since it was South of the Fraser politicians calling the shots. If Seattle voters want to spend $2 billion on an LRT with tracks made out of Klondike gold, then its their choice. I wish the residents of the GVRD had the same rights as the residents of Seattle when it comes to approving these mega projects so they won't have to get screwed with the RAV boondoggle.
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Old June 8th, 2005, 06:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssiguy2
Yes, 2bil.
This is what I get for not proof reading my entry..............................D'OH!
Meanwhile back at the conversation.
That 2bil is way to much for 14mile LRT, that $150mil/mile. That is WAY above the LRT average. Most come in between $50 to $100mil. I have never even heard of an LRT for that price. For that price you could nearly get a subway. Small wonder there has been so much opposition over the years.
Yes, it is a bit pricey, but oh so needed at the moment (imo)

Not to dwell on the past, but would it have been cheaper to do this 10-20 years ago (when it first started to get attention and they couldve had time to plan and think and debate, rather than now, when its kind of spur of the moment "oh! they voted on it! quick! think of something!" )?
I dont know, i dont hear alot about the politics/financial stuff surrounding it (you see, orlando local news doesnt give us much insight :P )

...
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Old June 10th, 2005, 06:29 AM   #19
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Seattle monorail costs goes past $2 billion mark

Please read this carefully! it's $2 billion including the other charges, like staff, property buy outs, and other stuff like this.

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 12:00 AM -- Updated 11:49 AM

Monorail price tag exceeds $2 billion

By Mike Lindblom

Seattle Times staff reporter

Joel Horn, monorail project's executive director

Seattle Monorail Project updates

State auditor's letter to Monorail agency

Breakdown of $2 billion price tag

The price of Seattle's planned monorail has surpassed $2 billion, adding to the public cost of a project that already is likely to take decades to pay off.

Monorail officials had advertised a $1.75 billion estimate when voters approved the line in 2002. Reasons for the increase include higher costs for staff and design consultants as well as land purchases for stations on the 14-mile line from Ballard to West Seattle.

Meanwhile, State Auditor Brian Sonntag, noting concerns about monorail financing, contracting and public disclosure, has notified the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) that his office will review those issues in the agency's upcoming annual audit. His letter, dated Tuesday, mentions State Treasurer Mike Murphy's doubts that the monorail's car-tab tax can raise enough money to pay off construction debt.

Last week, monorail officials announced a tentative contract with a team of companies to build the tracks, stations and trains for "$1.6 billion and change." When land, agency overhead and other costs are added, the total rises to just over $2 billion, a Seattle Times review shows.

SMP Executive Director Joel Horn said the overall costs, plus additional cash reserves, amount to $1.94 billion in today's dollars, after adjusting for a 6 percent inflation rate. The Times and original monorail projections described dollars in the year they are spent, not adjusting them for inflation.

Like many large public-works projects, the monorail relies on selling bonds to raise money for construction because taxes generally don't flow in early enough to pay the builders.

Horn said he expects to raise more than enough money to complete the project, despite a voter-approved debt limit of $1.7 billion in current dollars. The 2002 ballot measure did not set a spending limit on the project.

The agency intends to minimize its debt payments in the short run by deferring interest payments to later years while issuing bonds of up to 40 years in duration. The bond repayments would be timed so the outstanding principal never breaks the debt cap, Horn said.

Critics have likened a 40-year debt plan to a family making the minimum payment on a credit-card bill.

Asked if the agency is trying to sidestep the debt cap through its borrowing strategies, Horn answered: "Does it break faith with the voters? Absolutely not, period.
"The point here is, we have done something amazing," he said. "We have taken a project with a very substantial problem and managed to deliver it with one-third less revenue." Car-tab taxes have been coming in about a third less than the original plan predicted. Monorail planners had predicted that plan could retire the tax in roughly 25 years.

Krista Camenzind, of the critics' group OnTrack, disagreed with Horn. "Wasn't the whole point that this was a well-planned and disciplined project? That's the rhetoric they were using at the time."

The tentative contract contains 16 of the 19 stations previously proposed. Trains would arrive eight minutes apart on opening day in 2010, because the agency will buy fewer train cars. Monorail officials have mentioned the possibility of funding extra trains by tapping into the proposed $4 billion budget to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel.

Peter Sherwin, a sponsor of two pro-monorail initiatives, said a bottom line of $2 billion seems acceptable.

He sees the plan now for fewer stations as a plus, speeding travel times. The plan has improved because it includes special downtown track switches to allow the city core more-frequent service, he said. Stations were moved to off-street sites for aesthetic reasons, an expensive change. He believes another downtown station, at Second Avenue and Madison Street, will be added back by opening day.

Builders must obtain $500 million in liability insurance to guarantee a finished line. Cleve Stockmeyer, a monorail-board member, said that provision has added tens of millions of dollars to the contract with Cascadia but provides value unseen by the average citizen.

"This is within 10 or 15 percent of what the estimates were," Sherwin said. "Many of the people who were critics of the system insisted on some of the changes that are happening today. ... Those people, if they were honest in their answers, will say we've improved it."

Voters have backed a monorail four times since 1997, SMP board member Cindi Laws pointed out. She remains comfortable with the cost, in part because she expects the system to last a century.

"We're breaking faith if we don't build the project. The point is to be rational and clear-headed, and not spend 10 cents more than we have to spend," she said.

The agency plans to release more details June 20. Horn said the package contains $234 million in cash reserves, though roughly half is earmarked for known needs such as relocating underground utility lines, compensating Seattle Center for the loss of the current monorail, and public art.

If construction goes well, Horn said, money will be available in 2007, 2008 or 2009 to add stations.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 06:30 AM   #20
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Monorail always ends up being very expensive and unuseful
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