Sound Transit submits a revised federal funding application for light rail
Sound Transit today submitted a revised application for its pending grant agreement with the federal government to the Federal Transit Administration in Washington D.C. The revised application reflects two fundamental changes in the project: An increase in the baseline cost estimate for completing the segment between S. Lander Street and N.E. 45th Street (MOS-1) to $2.6 billion (year of expenditure $), and extending the schedule for completing the central Link light rail system by three years to November 2009. The schedule and budget revisions were proposed to the Sound Transit Board at its last meeting on Dec. 14, and will be considered at the board's next meeting on Jan. 11.
Sound Transit has also updated its incremental cost per new rider figure originally included in its 1999 New Starts report to FTA to reflect the proposed budget and schedule changes. The figure is one of several criteria by which the FTA ranks projects competing for federal grant agreements. Sound Transit's central Link light rail project is one of only a few projects in the nation to be ranked as "highly recommended" by FTA.
For central Link's MOS-1 segment the incremental cost per new rider is increased from $3.30 to $7.67 - a figure that is still well below the national median for new rail projects of $10.39 per new rider, and below other light rail projects currently competing for federal funding. For instance, the incremental cost per new rider for the San Diego light rail Mission extension project which is "highly recommended" is $10.40 per new rider, and for the Portland MAX Interstate extension - also ranked "highly recommended" - it is $9.70.
The revised construction schedule and budget both must be adopted by the Sound Transit Board before the FTA can award the $500 million grant agreement. The questions will be taken up at the next board meeting on January 11. Two public open houses will be held next week to discuss the changes and receive public comment. The open houses will be held on Monday January 8 and Tuesday
January 9 from 4 pm until 8 p.m. at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson in Seattle.
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.