Back in August we wrote about Sound Transit and Metro adding cell service to the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) by the end of 2016. Well it’s January 3rd, and there is still no service from Westlake to International District. When asked about the delay, Sound Transit gave a relatively cryptic response, indicating an unspecified delay of 1-4 months, with a new goal of “early 2017” for the DSTT and “late 2017” for Beacon Hill:
DSTT tunnel installation (Westlake to International District) is now at 95% completion; target for DSTT install completion and commissioning: early 2017. Once cellular service in the DSTT is up and running, construction for the Beacon Hill tunnels will begin, with completion and service startup at/through Beacon Hill targeted for late 2017. Note these timelines are contingent on available construction/installation resources. As the team continues making progress on installation, we’ll communicate more specific timelines to riders.
When pressed for a reason for the delay, Sound Transit then indicated that labor issues as the culprit:
We only have a couple of hours in the tunnels at time, so the length of time crews can work in the tunnel is limited. Also, IT is juggling multiple project priorities with limited staff. That said, given time and resource limitations, the team is making steady progress. (emphases mine)
Without further specifics, readers are left to speculate. The delay may be related to interagency inefficiencies, as a private vendor and a public agency (Sound Transit) are installing infrastructure in another agency’s tunnel (Metro). Perhaps this is presenting challenges relating to staffing and labor agreements? Another possibility is an unspecified technical problem that Sound Transit would rather not share publicly?
Whatever the reality, the wait isn’t expected to be too much longer (except for those at Beacon Hill). You should be able to check OneBusAway or swipe right on Tinder by the time spring rolls around.