Ron Sims announces full $75 million FY 2004 appropriation for light rail

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Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Ron Sims today announced that a conference committee made up of House and Senate lawmakers settled on a $75 million FY 2004 appropriation for Central Link light rail - the full amount requested by Sound Transit and the Bush Administration.

"Once again, Sen. Patty Murray has come through for the people of our congested region," said Sims. "Once again, she has demonstrated her ability to work across party lines and deliver results. She is our hero."

Sen. Murray, a member of the conference committee, played a key role in bridging the gap between the full $75 million proposed by the Senate and a lower appropriation of $15 million that was earlier proposed by the House.

Sen. Murray and other members of Washington's Congressional delegation joined Sound Transit in celebrating the beginning of light rail construction on Nov. 8. Among those on hand was Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Tacoma, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee who also played a pivotal role in securing federal support for the project.

"The people of Washington are truly fortunate to have champions like Sen. Murray and Rep. Dicks," Sims said. "Time and again, their stature and influence translate into real benefits for all of us."

The conference agreement will go back to each house of Congress for approval before it goes to President Bush's desk for his signature. In February the President included the $75 million in his proposed FY2004 budget.

The Federal Transit Administration on Oct. 24 executed a $500 million full funding grant agreement (FFGA) for Central Link following an extensive Congressional review and U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General audit. The $75 million represents the 2004 installment of the FFGA, bringing the total federal contributions so far to $166 million. The remaining $334 million is scheduled to be provided in future years.

Central Link light rail has the highest rating possible from the federal government and is an ideal technology for moving people between their homes, jobs and other destinations amid the region's challenging geography of hills, valleys and water. Central Link's initial segment will 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.