Major federal awards announced for Sound Transit light rail projects

Work on the Lynnwood Link Mountlake Terrace light rail station in early 2021, courtesy Sound Transit.

Washington state’s two U.S. senators — Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell — on Friday announced that Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link and Federal Way Extension light rail projects will be receiving two new Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program wards, administered by the Federal Transprotation Administration.

The funding for the award comes from the American Rescue Plan. The awards include $158 million for the Federal Way Link Extension project, and more than $94 million for the Lynnwood Link Extension project. This funding will supplant part of the local share of funding for the projects that was required for the full funding grant agreements that Sound Transit had entered in to with the FTA for each project, saving local taxpayers millions, a news release issued by the two senators said.

“The people of Puget Sound have been clear they want to see more investments in light rail and public transit throughout the region, so I’m working to help make that happen,” Murray said. “I fought to make sure the American Rescue Plan included funding for struggling transit agencies and to save local taxpayers money—I’m glad that the FTA is using that funding to continue their commitment to these critical projects.

“The Federal Way and Lynnwood Link Extension projects are crucial to reducing congestion, curbing emissions, and opening up opportunity and mobility to communities that have traditionally been left behind,” Murray added.

“This is good news for Puget Sound commuters,” Cantwell said. “Every federal dollar that we get helps keep Sound Transit’s light rail expansion moving and gets us closer to building a transit spine from Everett to Tacoma. These funds will help provide four light rail stations between Shoreline and Lynnwood, and three stations between Kent and Federal Way.”

The CIG program is a discretionary funding program for the construction and expansion of new and existing fixed-guideway public transit systems such as heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars, ferries, and certain corridor-based bus systems. Agencies applying to the CIG program work closely with the FTA through rigorous project development and engineering phases, after which the FTA decides whether to give the project a grant agreement and the corresponding federal dollars.

In 2020 and 2018 respectively, Sound Transit and FTA entered into full funding grant agreements for the Federal Way Link Extension and Lynnwood Link Extension projects. These agreements include federal commitments to help fund these projects along with a local funding match. The grants announced Friday will go directly to Sound Transit to continue work on these projects, and come in addition to previously committed federal funding for the project, saving Sound Transit a combined more than $252 million they originally would have had to spend on the projects.   

“This funding is critical to delivering the largest transit expansion program in the nation, providing thousands of jobs while we combat rising congestion and climate change,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “We thank Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell for enabling these transformative investments, and for continuing to advance their pending bill to help close our affordability gap for future extensions by providing up to $1.9 billion in additional pandemic relief.”

Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension project will receive a  grant for $94,047,724 in American Rescue Plan CIG funding to supplant part of the local share in the full funding grant agreement that Sound Transit originally agreed to pay for the project. The project is a 8.5-mile extension to the light rail system from the Northgate station in King County to the Lynnwood City Center Station in Snohomish County. FTA and Sound Transit entered into the full funding grant agreement for the project in December 2018.

 

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