Sound Transit's East Link light rail to get $1.3B loan

Posted on January 20, 2015

Rendering courtesy Sound Transit
Rendering courtesy Sound Transit

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced a $1.33 billion loan to Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) for construction of the East Link Light Rail Extension Project. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan will expand the popular Link system serving the Puget Sound region and help Sound Transit implement a voter approved regional capital improvement plan.

RELATED: Hill tapped to manage Seattle East Link extension project

“The East Link Project will give the people in Seattle area better access to jobs, education, and other opportunities,” said USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This project will have a significant impact on the entire region and expand a world class transit system. We want to bring these opportunities to other parts of the country, working with Congress to develop a sustainable, long-term funding solution for transit, roads, bridges and other crucial infrastructure.”

The 14.5-mile light rail extension, one element of a 50-mile system, will connect some of the region’s most populated and fastest-growing areas to Sound Transit’s existing rail system at the International District/Chinatown Station, which runs from downtown Seattle to SeaTac Airport. According to Sound Transit, extending light rail in this corridor is expected to create 40,000 jobs in construction and future economic development, as well as increase access to growing software and biotech industries in the greater metropolitan area.

“This project demonstrates the great things that can happen when federal, state, and local partners work together to make critical transportation infrastructure investments,” said Sylvia Garcia, DOT CFO and Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.

In addition to the $1.33 billion TIFIA loan, DOT is contributing $74.7 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds and $14 million in TIGER V funds toward the $4 billion East Link Project. Construction is expected to begin later in 2015, with a targeted opening date of 2023. The new line is expected to serve approximately 50,000 daily riders by 2030.

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