Negotiations with the remaining bidder for Seattle’s monorail project will continue until agreement is reached on design and costs. Work was to begin this year on the 14-mile line for a 2009 opening, but the Seattle Monorail Project board has not set a deadline to end talks with Cascadia Monorail, a 29-firm consortium led by Washington Group International and Fluor Corp.

"The board specifically did not set a deadline because one of the things we have to safeguard against is the competitive advantage of [Cascadia]," says SMP spokesperson Natasha Jones. "We didn’t want to be in that kind of negative bargaining situation."

Neither Jones nor Fluor would comment on published reports that Cascadia’s bid exceeds the $1.5-billion engineer’s estimate by $200 million. Team Monorail, a 19-member consortium led by Bombardier Transit Corp. withdrew its bid last fall over SMP’s tough liability standards and is now asking for a do-over (ENR 8/16/04 p. 7).

"We are suggesting that [SNP] revisit the current procurement, reissue or modify the request for proposal with the changes we are suggesting, and invite Cascadia and Team Monorail to submit proposals," wrote Denis Bouvette, a Bombardier division vice president, in a Jan. 14 letter to the monorail board.

Voters in 2002 approved a funding plan calling for 30-year bonds along with a car-tab tax of $140 per $10,000 of vehicle value. Expecting shortfalls because of construction delays, SMP last month began discussing revenue-generating options. State lawmakers also are considering a bill that would allow SMP to sell 40-year bonds.