Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sound Transit stumps for Lynnwood funding with congressional tour

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Sound Transit stumps for Lynnwood funding with congressional tour Office of Rep. Pramila Jayapal

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-7) joined Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff Sept. 19 for a tour of the Northgate light-rail project construction to emphasize the importance of federal funding to the project's success.

The 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link Extension would build four new light-rail stations from Northgate to Lynnwood and would connect riders between south Snohomish County and the University of Washington, downtown Seattle, the Eastside and the airport.

"Federal funding for Link light rail is critically important to connecting our communities and strengthening our economy," said Rep. Jayapal. "Our region is doing its part to fund the growth of our mass transit system. But without strong federal partnership, project timelines will be thrown off and residents will continue to struggle with congestion."

Sound Transit is in the final stage of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) process for securing the $1.17 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for Lynnwood under the Capital Investment Grant Program, also known as the New Starts program. Engineering approval by the FTA last year enabled the agency to move forward with final design work on the extension.

Congress included $100 million for the project as part of a larger legislative effort to keep the federal government funded earlier this year as part of FY17. Sound Transit is now looking to Congress approve a second installment of $100 million in FY18.

The $1.174 billion FFGA was scheduled to be executed in 2018. However, the current administration has proposed zeroing out funding for future FFGAs , including the agreement for Lynnwood Link.

While the vast majority of the $53.8 billion Sound Transit 3 measure comes from local funding, the measure assumes $4.7 billion in federal funding over the next 25 years based on past federal funding levels. Sound Transit says that if the federal funding assumption is not met, the transit agency likely will not be able to meet the project timelines in its measure.

"Our region's voters stepped up and voted to tax themselves to provide a path out of crippling congestion. For that they should be rewarded at the federal level, not punished," Rogoff said.

The Northgate light-rail station that Rep. Jayapal toured, along with stations serving the University District and Roosevelt, are on schedule to open in 2021. Tunnels between the University of Washington Station and a portal just south of Northgate are now complete and work is moving forward on all three stations.

The tour was carried out in partnership with Absher Construction Company, the general contractor for the station. Granite Construction Company, a subcontractor to Absher, is building the guideway, and Construction Management is being handled by North Star, a joint venture between Jacobs Engineering and CH2M. Design and engineering is by McMillen Jacobs Associates.