Washington State Lawmakers Announce Major Federal Investments for Federal Way Link Extension Project
With execution of funding agreements near, Sound Transit can begin construction on long-awaited project to extend light rail to Federal Way
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Washington state’s Democratic congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA 9th), Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA, 1st), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA, 8th), Denny Heck (D-WA, 10th), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th) applauded the announcement of the forthcoming signing of the full funding grant agreement (FFGA) for the Federal Way light rail extension, following months of pressure urging U. S. Department of Transportation officials to follow Congressional direction and approve the grant. Once signed, the final agreement cements a more than $1.4 billion commitment from the federal government to help fund the Federal Way link extension project, including a $790 million grant awarded through the Department of Transportation’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, and a $629.47 million direct loan also approved through the Department’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. According to Sound Transit, the company is ready to proceed with construction once the FFGA and TIFIA loan are signed and executed. Officials from Sound Transit have indicated the loan will be signed this week and the agreement will be signed in mid-January.
“This is an early gift for the South Sound community that will help decrease commute times and reduce traffic congestion for families, students, workers and travelers throughout the region,” said Senator Murray. “As transit ridership in Puget Sound continues to grow and more Washingtonians look to transportation alternatives like light rail to escape gridlock and traffic, this vital infrastructure project will help keep Puget Sound moving toward the future. I commend Secretary Chao and the FTA for working with Washingtonians to move this critical project forward, and I look forward to getting this project underway.”
“This announcement is great news for everyone in the South Sound who will now have the option to take light rail right into downtown Seattle and beyond. Three new light rail stations and 1,200 new parking spaces will help reduce congestion and increase connectivity for commuters and families throughout south King and Pierce counties,” said Senator Cantwell.
“The Federal Way Link Extension Project will connect thousands of passengers in South King County to work, school, and community events. The light rail extension adds transportation options while relieving congestion, connecting communities, and improving access for all. This project will be transformative for the region and it is great news that federal funding has been approved for this expansion,” said Congressman Smith.
“In Washington state, transportation means jobs, and a healthy regional economy cannot move forward without the efficient movement of goods and people,” said Congressman Larsen. “Federal investment in the Federal Way Link and in similar transit projects like the Lynnwood Link will help improve traffic congestion and provide a reliable commuting option for daily riders. I will continue to champion robust federal investment to expand light rail in the Pacific Northwest.”
“Construction of the Federal Way Link Extension is critical for commuters in our region who are spending precious time stuck in traffic when they could be at home with their families. This critical funding will help alleviate congestion and give commuters more options to get to and from their work. Investments in essential infrastructure projects such as this one will meaningfully support our economy and improve the quality of life of our constituents and neighbors,” said Congresswoman DelBene.
“This is great news for commuters in the 8th district and the surrounding area. The investment into light rail will alleviate traffic on our roads and connect the South Sound. I’m glad that the Department of Transportation recognized the need for this vital infrastructure,” said Congresswoman Schrier.
“Like most Washingtonians, I’ve spent far too much of my life stuck in traffic on I-5,” said Congressman Heck. “The Federal Way link extension will be a critical gateway towards connecting the South Sound with region-wide transit and alleviating congestion throughout the region.”
“This significant investment in our region’s transportation system will help Sound Transit expand more quickly, and alleviate the time-sucking traffic congestion my constituents experience. I’m so glad the Department of Transportation heeded our calls to prioritize this funding agreement and look forward to seeing the progress these resources make possible,” said Congresswoman Jayapal.
?“It’s exciting to see this funding agreement come to fruition and the continued progress of the Federal Way Link Extension Project – which will connect our neighborhoods, cut down on traffic and provide new, affordable transit options for folks throughout the South Sound community,” said Congressman Kilmer. “I’m a longtime supporter of projects like this and I’ll keep encouraging Congress to invest in infrastructure projects that create and support local jobs.”
Heralded as the next step in implementing Puget Sound’s much-needed regional system, the Federal Way Link Extension project is a 7.8-mile light rail expansion from Angle Lake, just south of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, to Federal Way. Puget Sound continues to boast the nation’s fastest-growing transit ridership: in the last five years, traffic congestion in the I-5 corridor has increased by 128 percent, while transit ridership has grown by 196 percent. To that end, Sound Transit expects the Federal Way Link Extension to add 40,700 daily trips and save the average commuter approximately 30 minutes of travel time compared to driving. Additionally, the Federal Way Link Extension will make a strong contribution to the local economy: local officials expect the extension to be a catalyst for an estimated $34 million in transit-oriented development and an estimated $1.8 million in annual parking revenue. Additionally, recent, current and projected private-sector development near light rail stations in the City of SeaTac—at the northern end of the project—are expected to total $465 million, and another $680 million of overall public- and private-sector value capture has been identified in the Federal Way Link corridor, presenting additional opportunities for local economic growth.
The lawmakers have been strong advocates in Congress for federal investments in Washington state infrastructure priorities, sending in a letter to Secretary Chao in October urging her to complete the full funding grant agreement for the Federal Way extension project and follow through on her repeated promises to uphold Congressional direction to approve federal investments affecting projects like the Federal Way link extension.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Cantwell has been a long-time advocate for investments in transportation and infrastructure throughout Washington state. In the 2018 omnibus, Senator Cantwell worked with Senator Murray to secure an increase in funding for the CIG program, as well as the National Infrastructure Investments program. In 2015, she authored a grant program to invest in railway, seaport, and highway freight mobility projects to increase efficiency and safety and reduce congestion. Previously, Senators Murray and Cantwell successfully fought back attempts by President Trump and his administration to reduce funding for the CIG program, and pushed the Department of Transportation to move forward with the final funding grant agreement for Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link light rail extension project in Snohomish County, which was executed in December 2018 and cemented a $1.2 billion commitment from the federal government to help fund the light rail expansion.
Representative Larsen, the only member of the Washington state delegation on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has been a fierce advocate for federal investment to develop vital transportation projects throughout Washington state. Larsen repeatedly pressed Department of Transportation officials, including Transportation Secretary Chao, to execute the Full Funding Grant Agreement for Lynnwood Link Light Rail Extension project, which is scheduled to open in 2024. Larsen also supported an increase in for Capital Investment Grants (CIG) funding in the House FY2020 Appropriations bill to further support vital transit projects.
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