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Keeping up with federal transportation funding
2017 has brought new uncertainty to the future of transit in our region -- at the federal level, the new administration has been threatening deep cuts to previously planned transit funding, and at the state level, the Legislature tried repeatedly to stall portions of the Sound Transit 3 funding. This week we finally got some great transit news. On Sunday night, Congress reached a funding agreement that included funding for transit projects in Washington State. Check out the big wins for transit in the budget agreement:
Lynnwood Link Light Rail Extension – $100 million.
In February 2016, President Obama released his proposed 2017 budget, which included $125 million for Sound Transit's Lynnwood Link Light Rail Extension. The proposed funding was part of a $1.1 billion multi-year grant that the Federal Transit Administration was prepared to award the project. In February of this year President Trump released his budget, which proposed significant cuts to transit infrastructure. We were concerned and uncertain about what the future funding of this important light rail line would be. However, the budget agreement reached over the weekend commits the first $100 million to the project, and paves the way for the long-term federal grant funding.
Lynnwood Link Extension will add 8.5 miles of Link Light Rail from Northgate to Lynnwood with four new light rail stations. The extension is scheduled to open in 2023.
Everett Swift II BRT – $43.19 million.
Community Transit currently operates the Swift Blue line, a bus rapid transit line that serves the 17-mile corridor along Highway 99 between Shoreline and Everett. Community Transit envisions a network of Swift lines that will provide fast, easy connections around Snohomish County. The budget agreement will grant nearly $43.2 million that will make the Swift Green line a reality. The Swift Green line will connect Boeing/Paine Field with the Canyon Park Tech Center in Bothell. This project will fund 12.3 miles and 18 stations of bus rapid transit. Congrats to Community Transit!
Seattle's Center City Connector – $50 million.
The Center City Connector will connect Downtown Seattle to both the First Hill Streetcar and the South Lake Union Streetcar with five total miles and five new stations. With investments from the City of Seattle and leveraging utility relocation funds, the $50 million Small Starts federal grant will help keep the project on track and set to open in 2020.
TIGER Grants – $500 million for the TIGER Program.
TIGER Discretionary Grants (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) is a discretionary grant program created by Senator Murray in 2009 that has supported hundreds of multimodal projects across the country including 16 in Washington State. The projects have included the Tacoma LINK Expansion, the South Park Bridge Replacement, among others. This grant program was also threatened in President Trump’s budget and the preservation of this program is a victory for multimodal projects across the nation.
We are very lucky in Washington State to have transit champions like Senator Patty Murray. Senator Murray is the ranking Democrat on the Senate appropriations committee and her deep commitment to transit was apparent in the budget negotiations. You can read her full statement on the budget agreement here.
So… what’s next?
While news from the other Washington this week is great, the work to obtain federal funding for critical transit projects in Washington State is not done. There are several projects in Washington State that have federal funding pending and we will continue to work hard to ensure the following projects are included in the 2018 budget. The projects we expect to be funded in the 2018 budget include Federal Way Link Extension, the Spokane Central City Line, and the Madison Street Corridor Bus Rapid Transit project.
I hope you will support us as we continue the work to develop vibrant, affordable, walkable, bike-friendly communities connected by great transit. Become a monthly donor or schedule a gift for giveBIG on May 10th.