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Sound Transit suspends nearly all light rail construction amid coronavirus crisis

Unless the work is deemed "critical," Sound Transit has suspended all light rail work in the region.

SEATTLE — Nearly all construction on Sound Transit expansion projects is now suspended through May 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Only work deemed "critical" and/or "necessary" will continue. That work includes making sure construction sites remain safe and secure, and to avoid mobility, environmental, or other impacts. 

"Sound Transit arrived at this decision after carefully evaluating what heightened measures would be necessary to ensure the safety of the construction workforce and whether contractors are prepared to take those measures," according to a statement from the transit agency. 

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Work that does continue will be suspended if contractors do not fully comply with safety plans.

Sound Transit says it expects workers will continue to work "on a voluntary basis and not be compelled."

The work suspension may be extended or decreased.

The suspension comes at a time when the agency is working to build out infrastructure to Lynnwood, the Eastside, and Federal Way. It's currently unclear how this will affect the timeline of those projects.

"With these being multi-year projects and the duration of the current impacts being uncertain we don’t yet know what if any effect there could ultimately be on the completion timeframe," Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick wrote in an email. "We will be working to minimize impacts to the greatest extent possible."

East Link light rail construction on the I-90 floating bridge will continue, because crews must complete necessary work between April and October due to safety reasons, according to Sound Transit.

On March 23, Sound Transit reduced its light rail and Sounder train service due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ridership on the Sounder has declined by 92%.