On January 7 Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl sent letters to the local Congressional delegation requesting funding of a number of projects within the framework of the planned economic stimulus.
STB has obtained a copy of one of these letters. The attached project list is more along the lines of what we’d been hoping for, rather than the crumbs we’d heard about to date:
- $44m to complete the Sounder extension to Lakewood.
- $10m to build the Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station.
- $11m for more buses.
- A $54m increase in the federal share for U-Link, freeing up funds for other projects.
- $21m for 400 parking spaces and a transit center at the Tukwila Sounder station.
- $34m to complete the two-way HOV lanes on I-90, accelerating the delivery of this precursor to getting started on East Link.
- $30m to extend Link to S. 200th St. Construction would begin in 2009 and be complete by 2012, completing that portion of the original Sound Move proposal. This would be a more logical park-and-ride terminus than Seatac.
- $180m to accelerate light rail to Northgate, potentially bringing delivery forward by as much as two years (to 2018), although that date is not promised in the letter.
There’s nothing here that isn’t either in Sound Move or Sound Transit 2, so this is mainly about bringing forward projects. After all, that’s the point of the stimulus.
All of these projects have received federal environmental approval, but only four (Mountlake Terrace, Lakewood, Tukwila, buses) are “shovel-ready” in the traditional sense. The others would allow acceleration of the planning or design stage and ultimately quicker delivery.
So that’s the demand side. The supply side (what’s going on in Congress) is after the jump.
Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar (Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) gave a speech on the 7th. He’s the author of the bill that will form the basis of the transit stimulus in the House. The Transport Politic has detailed analysis, but here’s a summary of the bill:
- Extends the deadline for funded projects to start from 90 days to 1 year, although the fast projects would receive priority. This opens the door for some of the less-advanced projects Ms. Earl proposes;
- Would give $204m to Washington State for transit projects;
- $2 billion nationally for purchases of hybrid buses and pay for fuel;
- $2.5 billion nationally in New Starts funding;
- $1.5 billion to Amtrak and $3.4 billion to states for intercity rail projects.
It seems clear to me that Obama isn’t going to threaten a veto on the stimulus based on the presence or lack of transit and intercity rail funding, so it appears this kind of legislative sausage-making is going to be decisive.