Federal government approves Sound Transit's environmental review of Central Link light rail; action is key step toward federal funding

Publish Date

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today approved Sound Transit's environmental review of the Central Link light rail project, clearing a major hurdle towards obtaining $500 million in federal funding for the project.

The FTA's finding, known as a Record of Decision (ROD), is the federal government's determination that all federal environmental requirements (as legislated in the National Environmental Policy Act) have been satisfied for the construction of the 14-mile Initial Segment of the Central Link light rail line.

The ROD is a pre-requisite to secure federal funding for the Central Link project. With the issuance of the ROD, Sound Transit can begin formal negotiations with the FTA on the federal government's commitment to a $500 million grant agreement for the project.

"This is a major milestone for the Central Link light rail project," Ron Sims, King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair, said. "We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and formalizing the federal funding agreement to keep the project moving forward."

The ROD is based on extensive environmental evaluations of the Central Link project over several years. These include the Environmental Assessment of the Initial Segment that Sound Transit and the FTA issued early this year, the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Tukwila Freeway Route issued November 2001, and the Final Environmental Impact Statement on the entire Central Link alignment issued in November 1999.

Based on these environmental documents and extensive public comment, the FTA issued the ROD, which presents the basis for the decision and itemizes Sound Transit's commitments to mitigate project impacts, both during construction and operation of the light rail system.

"I want to thank the members of our community who provided extensive comments on the environmental analysis. Their involvement ensures a better project for the region," Joni Earl, Sound Transit Executive Director, said. "I also want to recognize the tireless work of the Sound Transit staff who worked with the community, conducted the environmental analysis, and got us to this point in the project."

The Initial Segment of the Central Link light rail project will run from downtown Seattle to a station and park-and-ride lot at South 154th Street in Tukwila, with bus shuttle service to Seattle Tacoma International Airport. The Initial Segment will carry approximately 42,500 riders daily by 2020 and will serve 11 stations with regular, two-way service 20 hours a day.

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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.