The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) endorsed an agreement to provide $500 million in federal funding to build Sound Transit's (Seattle) Central Link light rail system.
The FTA endorsed the funding in a letter transmitting the full funding grant agreement (FFGA) to Congress, where it will be reviewed for the next 60 days.
"Light rail will make a major difference in the region's mobility and its very quality of life," said Ron Sims, chairman of the Sound Transit Board.
In addition, a key U.S. House of Representatives committee earmarked $183 million for the FTA to spend in 2004 on New Starts projects that don't yet have FFGA's.
The Link project, one of only two in the country given the FTA's highly recommended rating, is strongly positioned to compete against other projects.
The transmittal of the FFGA to Congress was accompanied by a letter signed by FTA Administrator Jennifer Dorn, which highlighted benefits of the project.
"The project is expected to eliminate 14,500 car trips each day. That number of cars could fill seven lanes of traffic during peak travel times. Further, the daily travel time savings for the projected 42,000 daily light rail commuters will be equivalent to nearly three work-weeks each year," wrote Dorn.
The FTA endorsement is based on numerous measurements of Central Link's cost-effectiveness, including the system's capacity for moving more than 16,000 people per hour and its projected daily ridership of 42,500 by 2020.