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Seattle streetcar project halted, investigation started

March 31, 2018

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle streetcar project has been stopped due to rising costs, and an investigation has started into the project’s management.

Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday announced the immediate halt of the Center City Connector that is now estimated to cost $200 million. That’s up from a previous estimate of $177 million.

“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.

The project is intended to fill a missing link connecting several other streetcar lines and allow easy rail travel in the downtown area. Officials say the $23 million shortfall is due to increased construction costs and errors in estimating the full cost of the streetcars.

Senior Deputy Mayor Mike Fong told the City Council on Friday that the action includes a “stop work” order. He said that means there will be no new contracts and the city will exercise its option to stop work on contracts already in place.

He said work will not resume until “we collectively determine that the project still makes sense.”

A review of the streetcar’s finances ordered by Durkan last week is expected to be finished in June.

The project is being paid for with $50 million in federal funding, $25 million from the city, and the rest through local taxes and utility bills.

“The City of Seattle has a critical obligation to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and an equal obligation to transparency,” Durkan said.

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