TIGER-DOT-logoIf you value transit investments in the Puget Sound there is really no substitute for Senator Patty Murray:

Sen. Patty Murray today announced that Sound Transit will receive two TIGER grants totaling $24 million. The grants, secured in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation, will help add new HOV lanes across Lake Washington on I-90 and replace the Tacoma trestle bridge that Sounder and Amtrak trains rely on in downtown Tacoma.

Spokesman Geoff Patrick confirms that unlike most Federal Grants, this appropriation is not already built into the Sound Transit budget, so thatĀ this is new money that will improve the bottom line for the East King and Pierce subareas.

Unsurprisingly, there are no plans yet for the newly freed money, but Patrick added that it “increases the general subarea financial capacity [and] creates more options for the Board whether at the ST2 or ST3 level.”

More on the TIGER program here.

[Update: Lindblom breaks out the money ($) as $14m for I-90 and $10m for the Tacoma Trestle.]

27 Replies to “Feds Allocate $24m to Sound Transit”

  1. Awesome…

    Hopefully the Pierce County money can be used in some way to help get light rail started back up in that area. As things stand currently, it looks like it could take decades to get light rail extended to Tacoma…

    I wonder if there is any chance that the Seattle/Shoreline subarea might see some funds like these in the near future… speeding up the construction of North Link (like they were trying to do a few years back) would do wonders for helping pass ST3.

    1. If there is another TIGER program (the House doesn’t want to fund it but the Senate does), then Metro or Pierce Transit could apply if they have a project that meets the program requirements. The TIGER pie isn’t very big. This $24M is all of the TIGER funds Washington will get this year.

      1. Didn’t Bellevue only “save” $50 million by daylighting/ruining their downtown station? Wasn’t that the absurdity of it all, in that it rendered a $500 million tunnel essentially pointless in order to save a pittance?

        In that case, this money could go half way to keeping East Link from being a monument to shortsightedness.

        (On the other hand, they could also give this money back to the Seattle sub-area, dropping the fraudulent claim that all ROW from the I.D. to the shore of Lake Washington somehow exists “for our benefit”.)

      2. Its effective point now is to keep trains from spoiling the view from City Hall’s front door.

      3. This Seattle resident is happy to validate the claim that East Link is partly built for our benefit, given that I’ll be riding it to work every day once it gets going.

      4. That’s no more “for our benefit” than the urban segments, to which the suburbs do not contribute, are “for the benefit of those from elsewhere who commute through them”.

        The basic principle of sub-area equity is that each sub-area pays for the segments that provide direct access to their domain. Whether for home, work, or play.

        Of course there’s cross-usage. That’s the whole point. That doesn’t legitimate the gross violation of the above principle.

        It is fraudulent to claim that one millimeter of East Link ROW is being fast-tracked to provide access to anywhere but the East Side.

  2. Good news! A little extra pocket change never hurt anyone.

    However – that goal of working on the rickety railroad trestle connecting the BNSF mainline to Freighthouse Square is a big, big deal for heavy rail – a robust, dual-track bridge could do a lot to influence the future of heavy rail in the Tacoma corridor. Even a few million dollars would go a long way.

    1. I think Martin was referring to the money that’s freed up from local revenues by applying the federal grant to the two projects. You don’t get a TIGER grant without a plan for using the money.

      1. I interpreted Martin’s “no plans yet” comment to mean “engineering plans” — but maybe that’s because a) I’m an engineer and think that way, and b) ST was going through the consultant selection process for this project only a few months ago.

  3. Especially wrt to East King, I’m not really sure that there is going to be whole lot of extra money anyway. As I recall, phase three of the all day HOV project is costing out significantly above budget, so presumably this money will be first used to fill that gap

    1. None of this is really extra money. The I-90 project is short on funds because the cost of the fire and life safety improvements in the tunnels will cost more than expected and the Tacoma trestle project was short on funds too. Now ST won’t have to cut some other East King project budget to make up the I-90 shortfall and the Tacoma project won’t have to be deferred to ST3 (or hope for money out of the Regional Mobility Grant funds from the state)..

    1. I just went on a bike ride to Kent and Auburn this past weekend. I knew it was a long ride, but I didn’t think I made it all the way to the Pierce or East King sub-areas!

    1. The money collected in a subarea has to be used there, so we would need a new Tiger allotment for the Seattle/Shoreline area to do this.

      I am not optimistic on this as they already denied UW to Northgate federal funds… but that’s no reason to give up hope.

      1. Because the pool of money is too small. $24 million for an entire state is chump change. If the Republican Party had its way, Tiger grants would not exist at all. Every time a federal transportation bill comes up, Democrats have to put up a bit fight to get Republicans to accept what little money the program has.

        In a way, it kind of makes sense. Republicans, by and large, represent rural and suburban areas, which are, by and large, not the beneficiaries of Tiger grants.

        If you don’t like it, all I can say is, that’s the way politics works. If the Democrats regained control of the House, perhaps the program would be better funded.

    1. Congrats to ST, who certainly can use the money to make up for lost sales tax revenue, but I thought the Burke-Gilman was a better, more timely application for money.

  4. We had a better substitute for Patty, but the idiots in Spokane voted him out of office in 1995, just about the time we were ramping up ST and figuring out how to pay for transits big facelift here.
    His name was Tom Foley, and he was Speaker of the House. Not a bad D either.
    1st time a Speaker has been defeated in an election.
    Morons! They could have had their N-S connector, expanded military base, AND a huge light rail system by now.

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