Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Federal investments push Federal Way light rail project forward

Actions will enable critical project to enter construction in early 2020.

Members of Washington’s congressional delegation Monday announced actions by the U.S. Department of Transportation to award a $790 million grant and $629 million low-interest loan to enable Sound Transit to start building light rail to Federal Way early next year.

The Federal Transit Administration on Friday transmitted a $790 million full funding grant agreement for Sound Transit’s Federal Way Link Extension to Congress, starting a 30-day notification period, according to Sound Transit. The action highlights that the administration intends to execute the grant once the period is complete.

Also on Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation formally notified Congress of its intent to close a $629.5 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for the project. This represents the fourth and final loan under our $1.99 billion TIFIA Master Credit Agreement, which we signed with USDOT’s Build America Bureau at the end of 2016. The agreement will save regional taxpayers between $200 and $300 million in borrowing costs over the life of our bonds, according to Sound Transit.

“South King County’s wait for faster and more predictable transportation options will soon be over with the completion of the Federal Way Link extension,” stated Sound Transit Board and King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer in a Sound Transit press release. “I’m thankful for our congressional delegation’s efforts to complete the federal funding for this project and I’m looking forward to breaking ground on this project next year.”

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell stated when regional light rail comes to Federal Way in 2024, “not only will our residents have more transit options, but it will transform our downtown for generations. Our city will begin to see this project become real when heavy construction starts next year and we are excited for the economic opportunities light-rail will bring to our residents.”

In advance of the FFGA approval, Congress approved $100 million in FY 2019 Capital Investment Grant funding that will represent the first installment of the grant.

Trains on the 7.8-mile light rail extension from Angle Lake in SeaTac to Federal Way will serve three stations along the route in Kent/Des Moines, at South 272nd Street and at the Federal Way Transit Center. Demolition and utility relocation work began this fall, and construction is set to begin in early 2020.

By 2021, Sound Transit will expand light rail to the U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. In 2022, Tacoma Link will expand to the Hilltop neighborhood. In 2023 trains will reach Mercer Island, Bellevue and the Overlake area. In addition to the Federal Way Link Extension, 2024 will bring the opening of extensions to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Downtown Redmond. From there, continuing expansions will focus on Tacoma, West Seattle, Ballard, Everett, South Kirkland, Issaquah and Tacoma Community College, forming a 116-mile regional system by 2041.

More information on the Federal Way Link Extension is available at www.soundtransit.org/fwlink.

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