Sen. Maria Cantwell (wikimedia)

Larry Ehl’s exceptional WSDOT Federal Tlansportation Issues blog explains that the earmark requests of Senators Cantwell and Murray are now online.   Earmarks are funds attached to specific projects, rather than sent to agencies like USDOT to apply a formula.  Publishing them online is one recent reform of this system.  The request is the first step and is a long way from the item being funded.

At any rate, both lists are very heavy on transportation, and there are dozens of transit-related requests in each. If you’re interested in a particular county’s system, check out the lists.  The most interesting items are, by my count, $28.3m for RapidRide and $3m for the S. 200th St Link extension, which would take us part of the way to opening it in 2014 instead of 2020.

People always ask how new money will affect RapidRide.  Some federal contribution is already figured in to the budget, but Metro is “hopeful that we may end up securing slightly more grant money than we had originally thought”, according to a spokesperson.  Of course, RapidRide is just a line item in the Metro budget, so additional cash could divert current capital funds to either make improvements to the lines (e.g., more ticket machines) or simply be used to prevent looming cuts elsewhere in the system.

Some other items of particular interest are below the jump:

Aurora RapidRide
Recipient: King County
Amount: $2,000,000

Ballard/Uptown RapidRide
Recipient: King County
Amount: $5,000,000

Community Transit Hybrid Bus Replacement
Recipient: Snohomish County Transportation Benefit Area (Community Transit)
Amount: $10,000,000

King Street Station Restoration,
Recipient: City of Seattle
Amount: $850,000

Pierce Transit Vehicle Replacement,
Recipient: Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation (Pierce Transit)
Amount: $1,440,000

Sound Transit Alternatives Analysis for High Capacity Transit from Northgate to Lynnwood,
Recipient: Sound Transit
Amount: $1,600,000

Sound Transit Link Light Rail: Airport to South 200th in the City of SeaTac,
Recipient: Sound Transit
Amount: $3,000,000

Tukwila Transit Center,
Recipient: City of Tukwila

West Seattle RapidRide,
Recipient: King County
Amount: $21,300,000

20 Replies to “Senate Earmark Requests for Metro, ST, Others”

  1. Why is the west Seattle Rapidride request so much higher than the other two requests?

    1. Because it’s closer to implementation?

      Here’s another interesting project from Murray’s list:

      Project Title: Electric Bus and Rapid Charging System
      Recipient: King County
      Amount: $5,000,000
      Location: King County, WA

      Project Description: Funding would support the development and acquisition of electric buses and supporting infrastructure that will extend quiet, emission-free transit service to hilly areas currently beyond the network’s reach.

      Importance: This project will allow King County Metro to leverage the existing trolley infrastructure to extend quiet, emission-free service into areas beyond the limits of the trolley overhead system without incurring the costs of adding additional trolley wire. With an improved system the new buses will be able to operate as trolley buses while underneath the trolley 69 miles of overhead system and to operate “off grid” as conventional buses for up to additional 30 miles.

      1. That would be awesome for ETB’s. If you miss a turn now, you’re pretty much screwed (fess up and get pushed back by a supervisor ((never any fun)), or go to the end of the wrong line to get turned around). Plus you’re passengers are pissed.
        A little ‘off-wire’ around the block sounds like a good deal for passengers and drivers alike – no harm, no foul.

      2. Even better this would allow new ETB routes without adding new wire. For example re-routing the 3 and 4 to use 9th and Yesler rather than James, the 48 between John and Cherry, or the 8 along Denny. Routes like the 48 and 8 might have to be split to allow ETBs to be used on them depending on how long the coaches can really get away with operating off-wire. But for short hops it shouldn’t be a big deal. Another possibility would be operating local and express service on the same route without having to use diesel coaches for the express portion of the service.

      3. “re-routing the 3 and 4 to use 9th and Yesler rather than James”

        So it would come up Yesler from downtown, turn left on 9th past Harborview, and right on Jefferson?

        That could work. The biggest thing is not to make people walk from Yesler to Harborview. It’s two blocks uphill, which could impede a significant number of fragile hospital patients.

      4. So it would come up Yesler from downtown, turn left on 9th past Harborview, and right on Jefferson?

        I’m pretty sure that’s the routing I’ve seen Metro discuss a few times in the past.

        I believe the reason for proposing the change is twofold:
        1. Get the 3 and 4 out of the congestion caused by the freeway interchange at Cherry/James and by crossing 4th and 5th.
        2. Provide service to Yesler Terrace particularly after it is redeveloped.

      5. Great! Wonder if this project can include a fleet of buses that can shut down diesels at IDS and CPS, and go 1.3 miles through the Tunnel with no noise or fumes?

        Mark Dublin

      6. That sounds suspiciously like the Bredas. Yuck … I hope that mistake isn’t repeated again.

        But to be fair the problem wasn’t the dual-power concept but a manufacturer with a history of poor quality control and not delivering what they promise.

      7. the Neoplan “E-Bus” from what i understand was a far superior product, itself being a early series hybrid with a 6v92TA providing the electricity to the traction motor while off-wire. Not sure how the renault hybrid demo of the mid 80s operated.

        Its my understanding that EPUs are for very limited travel only. Vancouvers being only a battery pack that does not run the air compressor while activated. Not sure about SEPTA’s implemntation with a small diesel motor. The $5 mil will probally only get you design and a prototype. Although with newer hybrid systems such as the Allison and BAE adding an auxilary 750vdc power input wouldent seem to be a terrably hard thing to do.

        Also if you did go full build out with this technology, you would have to supervise the operators to make sure they used trolley wires where available and not just leave the EPU running full time.

      8. What Mark was describing sounds more like the Bredas. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a snarky comment.

        I can’t tell if the grant project is for ETBs with fast-charging battery packs, or ETBs with EPUs.

  2. Wow, I like!! I would think that all these projects are closer to “shovel-ready” and that’s why they’re being funded. Does anyone know how far along the 200th Street LINK extension is in the design phase? Is it over the 90% threshold?

    1. I think S. 200th is currently at 30% design. It may not sound like much but it is much further along than the rest of South Link. More importantly the environmental review process is already complete for S. 200th.

      30% design is far enough along to know what the big construction risks are and to solicit bids for a design/build contract. It is also far enough along to have a good handle on the project budget, especially if you aren’t doing any major earth-moving.

      I believe that if ST gets the money they could have S. 200th finished as soon as 2014.

    1. Looks like something is happening at King Street inside with the false ceiling. Was just there last week and a few more panels have been removed. Maybe they are getting ready to remove it.

  3. Won’t it take wayyy more than $3m to speed up S. 200th Extension (referred to on the ST website as the “Airport Link Extension”) by six years?

    1. If you get a $3M federal grant, you don’t need to wait for $3M of tax revenue to come in. ST2 funds are also funding Sounder and ST Express enhancements, so only a portion of the South King revenues will be going to Link extensions. Lower than forecasted revenue would slow things down too.

    2. S. 200th will take more than $3 million to build but the amount needed to start construction early is much less.

      I don’t think the gap is all that large as ST was trying to get TIGER funds for S. 200th.

      I’m not sure of the exact amounts, but ST doesn’t need outside grants to cover the entire project cost.

      I know ST has been looking at ways to speed up construction of the S. 200th extension even without outside grants.

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