Media day at OMF to show off the first Siemens Link light rail vehicle June 19, 2019.

Sound Transit hopes for more federal transit funding to offset COVID-19 losses

House approves HEROES Act; Senate, White House not on board yet

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted the HEROES Act with the inclusion of provisions to provide $32 billion in COVID-19 relief funding for transit agencies, including more funds for Sound Transit’s light rail extension from SeaTac to Federal Way.

The tireless work of the region’s congressional delegation helped pass the measure, according to a Sound Transit news release on Oct. 5.

The House adoption on Oct. 1 follows urgent advocacy by Sound Transit and other agencies, with the entire Sound Transit Board signing a letter to the congressional delegation in July. The bill provides critical funding for public transit agencies across the country experiencing significant revenue loss since the spring. Negotiations continue between the House leadership and the White House regarding its final enactment.

Sound Transit is among the agencies that relies heavily on local sales tax funding, which has been hit hard by the pandemic and accompanying recession. Of key importance to Sound Transit is $2.5 billion in funding for projects including our Lynnwood and Federal Way light rail extensions, which have already received grants through the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program.

The proposed dollars would allow agencies like Sound Transit to increase the federal funding share of these projects so they can continue to build infrastructure expansions that fuel the nation’s financial recovery, according to the agency. The CIG provisions in the House-passed bill would yield an additional $375 million for Sound Transit’s capital program. In addition to the CIG funding provision, the House bill provides $594 million that will be distributed by formula to help offset operating losses for the 10 transit agencies serving the Puget Sound region.

“The ability to increase the federal share for the existing federal partnerships now funding light rail construction to Lynnwood and Federal Way would have a very positive impact on our ability to deliver the nation’s largest transit expansion program,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff in the news release. “Inclusion of these provisions in a final compromise bill is critical to generate thousands of jobs that stimulate our region’s and nation’s economy. We join other transit agencies across the country in calling for enactment of this transit assistance at the earliest possible date.”

Construction started this year on Sound Transit’s 7.8-mile Federal Way Link Extension project at an estimated cost of $3.1 billion. Federal Way Link will extend light rail from Angle Lake Station in SeaTac to Federal Way, and the extension project includes three new stations serving Kent/Des Moines, South 272nd Street and the Federal Way Transit Center.

This summer the Sound Transit Board kicked off a realignment process to determine how the agency will respond to revenue losses that are currently projected to hit nearly $1 billion through 2021 and between a $7 billion and $12 billion through the scheduled 2041 completion of voter-approved projects. Federal funding is critical for reducing the delays that Sound Transit will have to implement for projects that are not already under construction.

“The only way our transit agencies will be able to move people in our economy is if the next federal response to COVID-19 is focused on replenishing the revenues that are disappearing all around us,” Rogoff said. “During the last recession, Sound Transit projects were among the only construction efforts hiring tradespeople off the bench.”

The nearly half of commuters to and from downtown Seattle who relied on transit last year are a testament to the importance of investments by Sound Transit and other local partners, according to the news release.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

The Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center is located at 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
New vaccination site may open at Federal Way’s Performing Arts and Event Center

While no location decision has been made yet, Public Health — Seattle & King County says new sites will serve between 500-2,000 people per day.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Power outages cause massive wastewater spill into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

King County estimates millions gallons of untreated wastewater overflowed into surrounding waters.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Sound Publishing file photo)
House Democrats lay out massive $26B transportation package funded by gas tax hike

An 18-cent gas tax increase and a fee on carbon emissions would fund new roads and more.

File photo
Report: 70 percent of gun deaths in Washington are attributable to suicide

Research done at The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at Harborview… Continue reading

June 2018 algae bloom. Photo courtesy of Department of Ecology
Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten health of Puget Sound

Wastewater treatment plants account for about 70% of the excess nutrients.

Robert Allen, 61, had never been homeless in his life before 2019, when he lost his housing. The chef has been trying to get back on his feet, and hopes to open a nonprofit and make hot sauce. File photo
King County implements 0.01% sales tax to raise money for housing the homeless

Officials plan to buy hotels, motels and nursing homes for conversion into permanent housing.

Teaser
Social media site Parler returns after registering with Sammamish company

The right-wing social media website is not being hosted by Epik, but registered its domain.

Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo
State lawmakers propose bill to fast-track the governor’s reopening plan

Bill’s sponsors want to give legislature control over COVID-19 restrictions.

Fentanyl. (Courtesy photo)
King County reports record numbers of drug overdose deaths

Preliminary toxicology testing shows most overdose victims used multiple types of drugs.

Most Read