Sound Transit: light rail integrity not impacted

Posted on March 20, 2009

Following an investigation that the United States Attorney’s office for Western Washington led with Sound Transit’s support, a subcontractor has pleaded guilty to falsifying documents related to the grade of steel used in a portion of the Link light rail line from downtown Seattle to SeaTac International Airport.


The steel in question does not impact the structural integrity of the system and there will be no impact to taxpayers.


Three separate analyses confirm the structures still meet all seismic and structural requirements and the system’s durability, safety, capacity and maintainability have not been impacted.


An analysis commissioned by Sound Transit including the agency’s engineer of record has concluded, unequivocally, that there is no adverse impact to any aspect of the pier foundations or any other aspect of the system. Engineers hired by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) also analyzed this situation and independently reached the identical conclusion: based on the actual strength of the steel used in the foundations, there is no adverse impact on the structural or seismic strength, capacity, durability or capability of the piers, the foundations or the system as a whole.  The system is safe to operate and will operate as intended. A third engineering firm paid for by Appleby Northwest also concluded that the system is structurally sound.


Sound Transit staff worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the FTA Inspector General’s Office throughout the investigation and is satisfied with the outcome. 


The subcontractor, Appleby Northwest, admitted to forging information contained in mill certificates relating to the grade of steel used in some guideway foundations on the five-mile light rail segment.


Sound Transit staff has calculated the difference in value that resulted from Appleby’s conduct, and that amount plus the cost for the engineer of record’s investigation and report (approximately $48,000) will be deducted from the final payment to the general contractor on this portion of the line. The current contract amount for this portion of the light rail line is approximately $240 million. Appleby’s actions will cause no delay to the scheduled light rail opening in July.

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