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FTA awards $790 million grant for Federal Way light rail extension

Action will enable critical project to enter construction in early 2020

Publish Date

Today Acting Federal Transit Administrator K. Jane Williams and Congressman Adam Smith joined Sound Transit representatives and other officials in South King County to mark the award of a $790 million Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Federal Way Link Extension project.

"Commuters in Seattle can now look forward to a one-seat ride between King County, Sea-Tac Airport, downtown Seattle and the University of Washington," Williams said. "This extension will improve access to jobs, health care, educational opportunities and other destinations in the Puget Sound region."

"The Federal Way Link Extension Project will help connect thousands of passengers daily along the South King County corridor, relieving congestion and improving access to travel for all," said Smith. "Many cities and stakeholders have worked tirelessly on the project, one that marks a major step toward building a more efficient and effective regional transit system that will benefit local communities. Federal funding for the extension project’s construction will be invaluable to the region. As the regional economy continues to grow and expand, I continue to wholeheartedly support these efforts to improve access to transportation for commuting and leisure."
"Projects like the Federal Way Link light rail extension take a major step toward reducing traffic congestion and emissions across the region and preparing Puget Sound to support its growing population and economy into the future, and I appreciate the collaboration of leaders on the federal, state and local level who have worked diligently to get us to this point," said Sen. Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I look forward to celebrating the completion of this vital project, and will continue doing my part in Congress to make sure the federal government delivers on its commitment to making smart infrastructure investments that will help decrease commute times and improve air quality for families, students, workers and travelers across Washington state."

"More than $1.4 billion in federal funding will deliver much-needed new transit connections for everyone in the South Sound. Three new light rail stations and 2,000 new parking spots will help families and commuters to Seattle and beyond, helping to save as much as 30 minutes each way of the trip," said Sen. Maria Cantwell.

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

"Signing this federal grant today culminates the hard work of our congressional delegation, the Sound Transit Board and the project staff," said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place Councilmember Kent Keel. "Completing this light rail extension to South King County will transform people’s commutes and position us to start building light rail from Federal Way to Pierce County." 

"Relief from ever-increasing congestion in the South Sound is on its way," said Sound Transit Vice Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "With this major investment from our federal partners, the Federal Way Link Extension is on track to connect South King County to our world-class regional light rail network across Central Puget Sound."

"Due to increased congestion in South King County as a result of population growth, travel times for residents continue to rise," said Sound Transit and King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. "With the federal funding for the Federal Way Link Extension now secured, South King County will soon have relief from traffic gridlock."

"With today’s full funding grant agreement, light rail is another step closer to South King County," said Sound Transit Board and King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. "I look forward to a future with more transportation choices for our South Sound communities, and appreciate all the work that has been done at the federal level to get us where we are today."

"Sound Transit’s success securing federal funding for our light rail expansion projects is a testament to the steadfast support of our congressional delegation and our strong partnership with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration," said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. "With the help of these Federal Grant and loan funds, within the next five years, our region will enjoy a true traffic-free reliable rail network between Federal Way, Sea-Tac Airport, downtown Seattle, Northgate, Lynnwood, Mercer Island Bellevue and Redmond. We are grateful to Secretary Chao, Administrator Williams and the entire DOT team for partnering with us to make this happen."

The critical grant and a $629.5 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation, finalized last month, will support Sound Transit in launching construction of the light rail extension early this year. In advance of the FFGA approval, Congress approved $100 million in FY 2019 Capital Investment Grant funding that represents the first installment of the grant. 
The $629.5 million TIFIA loan represents the fourth and final loan under Sound Transit’s $1.99 billion TIFIA Master Credit Agreement, which was 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.

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 will begin this spring, 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