Good news for Sound Transit: House proposal includes $80 million for light rail

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As light rail construction moves into high gear this week, a key U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee today approved a proposed funding package that includes the full $80 million sought for the project in FY 2005. 

"This news comes at a very exciting time as light rail construction takes off and momentum builds for keeping our region moving," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.

Currently, Sound Transit has received bids for four out of five of the five civil construction contracts for the Central Link initial segment, with bids to date running 3 percent below estimated costs. Construction is well underway in Seattle's SODO area and this week moved into full swing in the Rainier Valley. This summer, light rail construction will also get underway in downtown Seattle and on Beacon Hill. 

"Rep. Norm Dicks, Sen. Patty Murray and other members of our congressional delegation are really coming through for people who are stuck in our region's traffic congestion," Ladenburg said. "We also want to extend a resounding thank-you to Rep. Ernest Istook, the chair of the House transportation appropriations subcommittee." 

"I am delighted that after years of controversy, the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee has put in the full amount of funding for Link light rail called for by the Full Funding Grant Agreement that we fought so hard to get," Dicks said. 

The proposed $80 million is the FY 2005 installment of the multi-year funding commitment that Sound Transit received from the federal government last year and is also included in the Bush Administration's FY 2005 Budget. The subcommittee proposal will go on to be considered by the full House Appropriations Subcommittee and the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate appropriations process is expected to start in September. 

In October 2003, Sound Transit received a $500 million funding commitment as part of a full funding grant agreement (FFGA) approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The award followed a rigorous review by Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation. ­To date, Sound Transit has received $166 million of the FFGA. The additional $80 million would bring the total to almost half of the $500 million commitment.

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