President's FY 2006 budget includes $80 million for light rail

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The Bush Administration's FY 2006 Budget proposes an $80 million appropriation for Sound Transit's Central Link light rail project, the full amount the agency sought for FY 2006.

"Central Link light rail construction is on track and moving forward rapidly," said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg. "We are grateful for the Bush Administration's support for keeping our region moving and for the important roles that Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Norm Dicks and other members of our congressional delegation have played."

Sen. Murray and Rep. Dicks played key roles in the Federal Transit Administration's 2003 award of a $500 million full funding grant agreement (FFGA) for the Central Link light rail initial segment. At the time, the project was one of only two New Starts projects in the country to receive the FTA's "Highly Recommended" rating.

The proposed $80 million appropriation would provide the full FY 2006 installment of the FFGA's multi-year funding commitment.  To date, the federal government has appropriated $246 million of the $500 million FFGA. The FY 2006 appropriation would bring the total to $326 million.

"I am pleased to see this commitment to light rail included in the President's budget," Senator Murray said.  "Federal support for this project is the result of hard work by so many in our community, and it will help strengthen our economy, our productivity and our quality of life."

Both Sen. Murray and Rep. Dicks are positioned to play key roles in securing congressional approval for the FY 2006 installment. Sen. Murray is the senior member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. Dicks is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Sound Transit has issued more than $1 billion in construction contracts for the Central Link initial segment. The project will open in 2009 and is projected to move more than 42,000 people a day by 2020.

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