A rendering of Sound Transit’s South 272nd Street parking garage and light rail station in Kent scheduled to open in 2025 as part of the Federal Way Link extension. COURTESY IMAGE, Sound Transit

A rendering of Sound Transit’s South 272nd Street parking garage and light rail station in Kent scheduled to open in 2025 as part of the Federal Way Link extension. COURTESY IMAGE, Sound Transit

Federal Way light rail project to receive $329M from federal spending bill

Funds to go toward paying for $3.1 billion extension from SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way

Sound Transit’s Federal Way light rail extension will receive $329 million as part of the $1.7 trillion spending bill approved this week by Congress.

The monies include a payment of $268 million, which finishes the commitment of $790 million three years ahead of schedule as part of the Federal Transportation Administration’s full-funding grant agreement, according to a Dec. 23 Sound Transit news release.

The bill also includes a provision that will provide an additional $61 million to the Federal Way project that will extend light rail 7.8 miles from Angle Lake Station in SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way. The extension will open at the earlier in 2o25, after an initial projected opening date of late 2024 when construction started in 2020.

Once the project is completed, riders will be able to get from Federal Way to Sea-Tac Airport in just 15 minutes, and from Kent/Des Moines to downtown Seattle in 42 minutes.

Sound Transit’s total cost for the project is $3.1 billion, according to a Dec. 23 email from spokesperson John Gallagher. Sound Transit also uses regional property taxes, car tabs, sales tax, car rental fees and light rail fares to pay for projects.

As part of the federal bill, the Lynnwood light rail extension will receive $254 million. That project also has a cost of $3.1 billion and is expected to open in 2024.

“Big news — the Sound Transit Federal Way Link Extension is now fully funded, and we are one step closer to getting light rail service into Snohomish County,” said U.S. Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell in a news release. “Sound Transit is in the midst of the largest transit expansion in the country, and with the historic rise in inflation and costs for construction materials, it was critical that the federal government step up to help transit agencies expeditiously fund these types of large projects.”

For the Federal Way Link Extension, the additional dollars mean that the project is now fully funded three years ahead of schedule. With the money in hand now, Sound Transit will save tens of millions in taxpayer dollars, Cantwell said.

The accelerated payments to the two projects will reduce agency borrowing, creating more than $40 million in savings for regional taxpayers, according to Sound Transit.

Sound Transit’s financial plan assumes 19.5% of the capital program will come from federal sources, and these funds are critical to helping meet that target, according to the agency’s news release.

In the next several years, Sound Transit will more than double the region’s light rail system from 26 miles to 62 miles. Later expansions are set to expand the light rail system to 116 miles while establishing new Stride bus rapid transit services along the north, east and south sides of Lake Washington and improving Sounder commuter rail service.

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