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President’s budget includes first installment of potential grant for Lynnwood Link light rail extension

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FTA proposes up to $1.1 billion grant to help commuters bypass rising gridlock on I-5

The proposed FY 2017 Budget released today by President Barack Obama includes the first $125 million installment of a potential $1.1 billion federal grant for the Sound Transit Lynnwood Link light rail extension.

The Federal Transit Administration also approved moving forward with final engineering work on the extension and gave the project its second-highest possible rating under its competitive grant process. Sound Transit is seeking up to a $1.1 billion grant through the FTA New Starts program.

“Thanks to President Obama including funding in his transportation package for Lynnwood Link, we are an important step closer to offering a 28-minute ride from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle, regardless of traffic or weather,” said Sound Transit Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I appreciate the President, Sen. Patty Murray and other members of our congressional delegation for demonstrating the leadership needed to fund regional transit.”

“The President has consistently recognized the importance of local transportation investments, and I am very pleased that this year’s budget is no different with the inclusion of the Lynnwood light rail extension,” U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said. “This is great news for Snohomish County, and would help relieve some of the worst traffic congestion in the Puget Sound region. I’m proud to fight year after year for long-term infrastructure investments that connect our communities and create good-paying jobs, and will keep fighting for these investments in Congress.”

Federal partnerships are key to delivering the regional high capacity transit system and the FTA New Starts program has been a significant source of funding for light rail. The proposed New Starts grant for Lynnwood Link would be the third light rail project in Seattle to partner with the FTA for a New Starts grant.

The Central Link light rail line that opened in 2009 included $500 million in New Starts funding and the University Link extension opening March 19th includes $813 million in New Starts funding.

The President’s budget proposal is subject to congressional approval. As final engineering work advances, Sound Transit will continue to work toward FTA approval and execution of the grant in 2017.

Last year the Sound Transit Board selected the final alignment and station locations for the line. Trains will run along the I-5 corridor from Northgate to Lynnwood with four new stations at Northeast 145th Street, Northeast 185th Street, the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center at 236th Street Southwest and at the Lynnwood Transit Center. New parking structures at 145th, 185th, and Lynnwood Transit Center will add approximately 1500 park and ride spaces within the I-5 corridor as part of the project. The extension is scheduled to open in 2023.

A trip from Lynnwood to downtown Seattle will take 28 minutes and the extension is expected to carry up to 74,000 riders each weekday by 2035.

“Lynnwood Link will be an amazing new option for those commuting into and out of Snohomish County,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Everett City Council Member Paul Roberts. “And it gets light rail one step closer to Everett, which we look forward to as part of the Sound Transit 3 vote this November.”

For more information on the project see:

Last year the Board also directed staff to plan for potential future stations at Northeast 130th Street in Seattle and 220th Street Southwest in Mountlake Terrace. The light rail tracks in those areas will be built to accommodate construction of future boarding platforms in a way that would not severely impact service.

Cost estimates for the 8.5-mile long project range from $1.5 to $1.7 billion. The project will also pay for 34 new light rail vehicles and fund a portion of a new light rail maintenance facility, bringing the total project cost to approximately $2.3 billion. A final budget will be established in 2017 with construction scheduled to begin in 2018.

Lynnwood Link is the northernmost of the more than 30 miles of Sound Transit 2 light rail extensions approved by voters in 2008. By 2023, Sound Transit is also scheduled to open an eastward extension to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area, and a southward extension to the Kent/DesMoines area. By 2030, Link is expected to carry more than 280,000 riders each weekday.