Federal Grant Approved for WA Light Rail Project
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration recently approved a $1.17 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement for an 8.5-mile light rail project slated for Seattle. This transit grant agreement is the largest issued by President Donald J. Trump’s administration to date.
Funding will go toward the $3.2 billion Lynnwood Link Extension light-rail project, granted through the FTA Capital Investment Grant program. Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit), the agency spearheading the project, was also approved for low-interest loans totaling up to $658 million, under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
Seattle Light Rail Project
According to The Seattle Times, voters originally approved the project in 2008. According to Mass Transit Magazine, the four-station project will connect King and Snohomish Counties, alleviating traffic congestion and helping with regional growth. (Puget Sound expects 1 million new residents by 2040 and by 2035, the route would see 70,000 daily drivers.)
Plans include 8.5 miles of grade-separated light rail, 34 vehicles and 1,500 parking spaces, as well as a new maintenance and storage facility. According to the DOT, Lynnwood Link will connect to the broader Link light rail network.
In August 2017, Sound Transit announced that the rail project would be running $500 million over budget, along with a six-month delay, which bumped the opening date back to mid-2024. The budget increase and opening delay were largely attributed to increased cost of labor, materials and land in Seattle.
Lynnwood Link also received in September a funding allocation of $100 million in fiscal 2018 CIG funds.
"The significant Federal investment announced today will improve mobility for thousands of people in the Puget Sound region and provide greater access to jobs, healthcare, and education, among other important destinations," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The project is currently in the final planning stage, with the FTA funding agreement covering 36 percent of the project costs. Sound Transit will also be allowed to access $200 million of previously approved CIG funds.
"With this extraordinary Federal support, the Lynnwood Link project will provide a light rail connection between North Central Puget Sound and major destinations like Northgate, the University of Washington, Downtown, and Sea-Tac Airport," said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.