Sound Transit buys crumbling home after tunnel mistake



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Posted on October 4, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 4 at 10:59 PM

SEATTLE – Sound Transit moves hundreds of people a day through its Beacon Hill Station.  But it’s now paying a family to move away from it.

The agency will pay Christine Miller-Panganiban and her family $476,000 for her home and any suffering caused by the voids, or holes, which started popping up in her yard last year.

“It was 21-feet deep and went up through the foundation of my house,” says Panganiban. “Then there was a crack here and a crack there. Most of my doors don’t open and close anymore.”

Other families have complained about foundation issues and cracking since the tunnel boring project for the Central Link Light Rail line. Juyol Yun says she’s had numerous cracks in her walls since the work.

Sound Transit blames the contractor, Obayashi, for miscalculating the soil composition when it did the tunnel boring through Beacon Hill.  It’s now doing repair work around the Beacon Hill Station, filling holes and further testing the composition.

“We’re being extra vigilant about the amount of material coming out," adds Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray. He also says the agency doesn’t expect to buy any other homes in the affected area and believes the contractor will cover the costs of the settlement.

Panganiban is planning to move away this month to an area not close to the Light Rail line.

“It’s with a bit of sadness, but we know it’s a good thing,” she says.

South Transit says a different contractor and different type of tunneling technology will be used to complete the Capitol Hill tunnel which is part of the University Link project.