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Tacoma Link Expansion secures $75 million in federal funding

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Small Starts grant for 2.4-mile light rail expansion included in approved FY 2016 budget

Congress today approved legislation to fund the federal government in Fiscal Year 2016, including $74.99 million in Small Starts funding for extending the Tacoma Link light rail line.

The funding comes through the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program. Other project funding includes tax revenues from the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure, grants secured by Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma, a partner on the project and other local funds.

“This is a huge win for Tacoma, and combined with the TIGER grant, will strengthen the region’s infrastructure, and is a great example of why it’s so important we keep fighting for investments in our communities,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. “As the region continues to grow, projects such as Tacoma Link will be the key to connecting our neighborhoods, creating new jobs, strengthening our economy, easing congestion and providing safe, reliable transit for students, workers and families.”

“This is good news that shows that the nation is taking notice of our push to increase transit options for commuters,” said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer. “The expansion of light rail will better connect all corners of Tacoma, help residents and visitors alike get around and make Tacoma an even more vibrant place. I’m pleased that the federal government is stepping up to partner with the City of Tacoma and Sound Transit to complete this transformative project for Tacoma.”   

“As a major urban center, Tacoma needs 21st century infrastructure to keep pace with its growing economy – and our growing region,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “My thanks to our state’s congressional delegation for its leadership to secure federal funding for extension of light rail in Tacoma.”

“I am thrilled federal funding for the Tacoma Link Expansion is approved,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “I thank the Obama Administration for including this project in its proposed FY 2016 budget, and Congress for passing it. The City of Tacoma and its residents have worked hard for many years with Sound Transit to create a project that will best serve the people who live, work, visit and invest here.”

In 2008, voters approved a partnership to extend the Tacoma Link light rail system. The 2.4-mile extension will run along Stadium Way to the Hilltop District and include one relocated station and six new stations. The extension also includes an expanded Tacoma Operations and Maintenance Facility next to the existing maintenance facility and four power substations.

The existing 1.6-mile light rail line serves six stations between the Theater District and the Tacoma Dome. Trains run every 12 minutes and provide nearly a million rides per year.

In addition to the $75 million in Small Starts funding, the extension is funded by approximately $50 million in Sound Transit 2 revenues and $33 million in other federal and state grants, including a $15 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that the City received last month. The City will identify an additional $7 million to complete its $40 million contribution to the project.

During the next two years, staff will advance engineering work on the project. The preliminary cost estimate of approximately $175 million in year-of-expenditure dollars will also be refined. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.