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Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sound Transit executive director resigns

The Associated Press

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SEATTLE - The executive director of Sound Transit has resigned, saying new leadership is needed as the agency struggles with a $1 billion cost overrun in its plan to build a light rail system.

Bob White wrote a resignation letter Monday that was accepted by Dave Earling, chairman of the Sound Transit board, agency spokesman Clarence Moriwaki said Tuesday.

White's letter said new leadership is necessary to restore public confidence in the transit agency serving King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Moriwaki said.

A new director will be chosen by the board Thursday, Moriwaki said.

The light-rail segment of the regional transit plan has come under fire from two former governors and other leaders since Sound Transit staff conceded late last year that the effort was $1 billion over budget and three years behind schedule.

The proposal to build the 22-mile route between SeaTac and Seattle's University District is now estimated to cost $3.6 billion, with a 2009 completion date.

On Saturday, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., declared that Sound Transit must "present a coherent plan" to win approval of a $500 million federal grant for the light rail from the Republican-controlled U.S. House.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., incoming transportation subcommittee chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has called for a review of the Sound Transit project.

"Because of the increase in cost and the three-year extension, they're going to have to be able to convince everyone in Washington, D.C., that this has not fundamentally undermined their plan," Dicks said.

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