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Sound Transit - the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority - will receive $18 million for rail transit projects under the FY '98 federal transportation appropriation bill reported out by a congressional conference committee. The bill is expected to receive quick congressional approval. The funding, agreed on by House and Senate conferees, will be used for preliminary engineering on the electric light-rail and commuter-rail elements of the regional transit plan.

"In light of the competitive budget environment we have witnessed in Washington D.C., we are delighted in the $18 million as a first installment," according to Edmonds City Councilmember Dave Earling, chair of the RTA's Public and Government Affairs Committee. "Our entire Congressional delegation - and especially our two senators - have worked long and hard to ensure the Puget Sound region ended up in this very strong fiscal position.".

The appropriation signals that the Puget Sound region's Sound Move transit plan is very well positioned in the competition for federal funds, according to Earling. "It's a very strong appropriation considering we're still in the early stages and haven't even begun construction," he said.

Voters in the Central Puget Sound region approved the financing plan last November for Sound Move, a 10-year plan to develop light rail, commuter rail and regional express bus services in the urban portions of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

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