The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) moved Sound Transit's Federal Way Link Extension forward in its rigorous funding process, granting the project approval to advance to the engineering phase — a necessary step toward securing a critical grant. The project has also earned a "Medium-High" rating by the FTA in its annual review of transit projects seeking the highly competitive grants.
In the coming months, Sound Transit will continue intensive work to advance its federal grant application, working closely with the FTA and the region's congressional delegation.
The FTA's Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program is the federal government's primary financial resource for supporting transit capital projects that are locally planned, implemented, and operated. With FTA's approval of the project into Engineering, FTA locked in the CIG funding amount at $790 million, the level requested by Sound Transit.
The CIG program requires that projects seeking funding complete a series of steps over several years to be eligible. The FTA approved the Federal Way Link Extension to enter project development in 2016. Following this latest step, Sound Transit will work with the FTA to demonstrate its readiness and capacity to achieve the project's scheduled 2024 completion.
The Sound Transit Board established the scope, schedule, and baseline budget of $2.45 billion for this project in 2018. Under new guidelines announced last year, the FTA is requiring additional contingency funding for all CIG projects. Under these new guidelines, Sound Transit is seeking 25% funding of the total federal project estimate of $3.1 billion. This estimate includes funding to purchase 20 additional Link vehicles.
Trains on the 7.8-mile light rail extension from Angle Lake in SeaTac to Federal Way will serve three stations along the route in Kent/Des Moines, at South 272nd Street, and the Federal Way Transit Center. Demolition and utility relocation work is scheduled to begin this fall, with major construction activities beginning in 2020.
By 2021, Sound Transit will expand light rail to the U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate. In 2023 trains will reach Mercer Island, Bellevue, and the Overlake area. In addition to completing the Federal Way Link Extension, 2024 will bring the opening of further extensions to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, and Downtown Redmond. From there, continuing expansions will focus on Tacoma, West Seattle, Ballard, Everett, South Kirkland, Issaquah, and Tacoma Community College, forming a 116-mile regional system by 2041.