Seattle's Central Link light rail became one of only two transit projects in the nation to receive a "highly recommended" Federal Transit Administration (FTA) rating -- the highest possible for prioritizing applicants for New Starts funding.
In a major indication of the new rating's significance, the FY 2004 budget issued yesterday by President Bush proposes $75 million for building the light rail system's initial segment.
The project's rating, contained in the FTA's annual New Starts report to Congress, is based on ridership, cost-effectiveness, local financial commitment and level of design.
The $75 million would provide the FY 2004 installment of the Full Funding Grant Agreement that Sound Transit is hoping to secure this summer after the executive and legislative branches complete their extensive reviews of the project.
"We appreciate the efforts of the Bush administration and FTA to help us restore public confidence in this project," said Ron Sims, Sound Transit Board chairman and King County executive.