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Wednesday, June 6, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sound Transit losing two of its key people

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sound Transit is losing two key people from its light-rail program.

Lyndon "Tuck" Wilson, acting director of the light-rail project, plans to leave his job at the end of this month. And Bill Houppermans, the chief engineer, plans to leave by the end of July.

Ahmad Fazel, deputy project director for the agency's Link light rail, will take over as interim director. Joe Gildner has already taken over as the acting chief engineer. Gildner was formerly a geotechnical engineer for the project.

Wilson's contract with the agency expires in September. Although he's leaving the director's job early, he will continue working as a consultant.

"Over the past few weeks ... it has become apparent that he has delivered all that was expected of him, and more," Joni Earl, the agency's acting executive director, said in a prepared statement.

Wilson took over as acting director in November through a contract with the engineering firm CH2M Hill. From the beginning he professed little interest in taking the job permanently. He informed Sound Transit two months ago that he planned to leave when his current contract expired.

He became acting director shortly after Sound Transit revealed it had seriously underestimated how much it would cost to dig a light-rail tunnel under Capitol Hill. He helped compile numbers showing the entire project was more than $1 billion over budget.

Houppermans had been chief engineer for the light-rail project since fall 1997. He plans to work for URS, an engineering consulting firm.

Houppermans says he has no regrets about his time at Sound Transit and leaves the agency on good terms. "They need new blood," he said.

Gildner took over as acting chief engineer in late May, said Houppermans, who is working on other tasks until he leaves.

Andrew Garber can be reached at 206-464-2595 or agarber@seattletimes.com.

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