Federal Way light rail extension receives $100 million federal allocation

Federal Transit Administration action signals support for $790 million full funding grant agreement as Sound Transit prepares for early 2020 groundbreaking

Publish Date

Sound Transit today welcomed the Federal Transit Administration’s allocation of $100 million in grant funding for extending Link light rail to Federal Way. The planned 2019 funding represents a significant commitment toward the pending multi-year full funding grant of $790 million that Sound Transit is seeking to break ground on the critical project in early 2020.

“Reducing congestion on the busy I-5 corridor and strengthening public transit options in King County is a win for our environment and for families, students and workers throughout Puget Sound—and I’m thrilled to see these major investments flow to infrastructure priorities in Washington state,” said Sen. Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “While this ‘down payment’ is a positive sign that the federal government will be at the table to help our local leaders see this critical project through, we must all continue working to ensure the final funding agreement gets over the finish line—and I intend to keep doing my part as a voice for our state in the Senate to ensure that happens.”

“Today’s announcement is a game-changer for commuters in South King and Pierce counties. This nearly 8-mile extension of the popular Link Light Rail line will greatly improve access to Sea-Tac and downtown Seattle for all South King and Pierce county residents. With travel times of 15 minutes between Federal Way and Sea-Tac and less than 45 minutes between Kent/Des Moines Station and downtown Seattle, this key federal investment will help reduce congestion in our region, while providing better options for commuters,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell.

“I am excited to see that the Federal Transit Administration has chosen to allocate $100 million in Capital Investment Grant funding to the Federal Way Light Rail extension project,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “Expanding light rail to Federal Way will help connect thousands of passengers daily to stations all along the South King County corridor. This public transportation project is vital in ensuring a broader range of options are available for travel to work, school, and community events. As the region continues to grow and expand, the light rail extension will be essential for relieving congestion, connecting communities, and improving access to travel for all.”

“It’s an exciting day for commuters in the South Sound,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer. “For too long, too many people have been stuck in traffic. This project represents progress in the effort to connect our neighborhoods, cut down on traffic, and provide new, affordable transit options for folks across the region. I’ll continue to advocate for the federal government to invest in infrastructure projects like this that will create and support local jobs.”

“Our historic work to construct a 116-mile light rail system connecting our entire region depends on our strong federal partnership that continues with this good news,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Redmond Mayor John Marchione. “Together we will transform people’s commutes and move toward a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

“This is great news for getting light rail under construction to Federal Way,” said Sound Transit Board and King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer. “Connecting more South King County residents to our growing regional light rail system will ease painful commutes and boost our economy. Faster and more predictable transportation will produce more job growth in our region.”

“This $100 million allocation for extending light rail to Federal Way represents a significant milestone in the path to securing the $790 million Full Funding Grant Agreement for the project this calendar year. I want to thank Secretary Chao and Acting Administrator Williams for their continued support of expanding transit options here in the Puget Sound,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “A robust federal partnership on funding this critical project will grant thousands more commuters the ability to escape ever-worsening gridlock.”

“I truly appreciate the personal phone call I received today from Sen. Patty Murray to let me know about this big news,” said Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell. “The arrival of light rail in Federal Way will not only strengthen our downtown core for generations come but also give our residents another much-needed commuting option. We are also excited to showcase all we have to offer as a community when Federal Way is the final stop on the line for nearly five years before the next phase heading south to Tacoma is finished.”

The funding is planned to go toward the $790 million full funding grant agreement (FFGA) that Sound Transit is seeking through the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. In April the FTA moved the project forward in its rigorous funding process by advancing it to the engineering phase, locking in the $790 million CIG funding level requested by Sound Transit. In the coming months Sound Transit will continue to work closely with the FTA and the region’s congressional delegation toward executing the FFGA. Execution of the FFGA is required before Sound Transit can access the $100 million allocation and begin to be reimbursed for the costs of the project.

The Federal Way Link Extension earned a “Medium-High” rating in the FTA’s competitive process, among the highest awarded to transit projects around the nation. The CIG program is the federal government’s primary financial resource for supporting transit capital projects that are locally planned, implemented, and operated.

Sound Transit is also working to secure a $629 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to support the Federal Way Link Extension. The loan is part of Sound Transit’s TIFIA master credit agreement with the FTA, under which Sound Transit became the first transit agency in the nation to enter into an agreement covering multiple projects. The TIFIA loans save local taxpayers money by granting Sound Transit access to financing with very low interest rates.

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 is scheduled to begin this fall, with major construction activities beginning in 2020.

By 2021, Sound Transit will expand light rail to the U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. 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.

CONTACT: Geoff Patrick—(206) 398-5313 or geoff.patrick@soundtransit.org