Seattle’s Sound Transit will receive two TIGER grants totaling $24 million. The grants, secured in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), will help add new HOV lanes across Lake Washington on I-90 and replace the Tacoma trestle bridge that Sounder and Amtrak trains rely on in downtown Tacoma.
The funding comes from the TIGER grant program created in 2009 to fund projects that are of regional economic importance and that help create and save jobs.
In preparation for extending Link light rail service across I-90 to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area, Sound Transit and WSDOT are working together to complete the third and final phase of adding new HOV lanes in both directions to the existing bridges. The new lanes will establish 24-hour HOV capacity in both directions, where today’s reversible lanes only serve westbound vehicles in the morning and eastbound vehicles at night. The project will maintain the current number of general purpose and HOV lanes when the I-90 center lanes are closed in fall 2016 for the construction of light rail.
In addition to constructing four miles of HOV lanes and ramps in each direction, the project will preserve pavement and build innovative fire/life/safety and seismic improvements on the bridge and tunnels. The project significantly improves transit and HOV reliability and reduces congestion.
$10 million in funding was also announced today for work to replace the Tacoma Trestle Bridge, a timber bridge built in Tacoma in the early 20th century. The replacement project will improve reliability by allowing for two main tracks in an area of Tacoma where Sounder, Amtrak and freight trains all share the same track. The project is anticipated to enter construction in late 2015 and open in 2017.
The project, located just off South 25th Street, will eliminate a bottleneck along a 0.65-mile section from Tacoma Dome Station to East M Street in Tacoma. While there are two tracks on each side of the century-old structure, its single track requires trains to be held frequently, causing congestion and delay.
The replacement project is part of a set of coordinated investments made by WSDOT, Sound Transit, Tacoma Rail, BNSF Railway, Amtrak, the federal government and other partners that have invested more than $1 billion into passenger rail facilities in the Pacific Northwest rail corridor.