The Northgate Link Extension is on schedule and on-budget, but without a $1.17 billion grant from the federal government the continuation of the light rail north toward Lynnwood will likely be delayed, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said Tuesday.
Touring the construction site of the future Northgate Station with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, Rogoff said, “In 2016, the administration made a commitment of $1.17 billion for this project (Lynnwood Link); our plan and work now is about getting the current administration to keep to that commitment.”
Rogoff added the agency was “dumbfounded and disappointed” earlier this year when the new administration sought to zero out funding for light rail to Lynnwood.
Jayapal promised to do everything she can to “ensure that the Federal Transit Administration follows through on funding the Lynnwood Link.”
“Our entire delegation understands the need to protect transit dollars here, and we are going to continue to make sure that we deliver as a federal government,” Jayapal said. “We understand we have a rough road to hoe to make sure we get these federal dollars, but I’ll tell you, I think our region has an enormous case to make for why this is a bipartisan necessity for transit in our region.”
Rogoff credited Jayapal, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressman Rick Larsen for securing $100 million in 2017 for the Lynnwood project. Congress has yet to approve a second installment of $100 million for 2018.
According to Sound Transit, the agency is in the final stage of the process of securing a $1.17 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement through the Federal Transit Administration for the Lynnwood Link extension under the Capital Investment Grant Program, also known as the New Starts program. A Full Funding Grant Agreement, scheduled to be executed in 2018, would guarantee the entire $1.17 billion grant for the Lynnwood extension.
However, the budget proposed by the Trump administration limits funding for the New Starts program to projects with existing full funding grant agreements. According to the budget documents, “Localities are better equipped to scale and design infrastructure investments needed for their communities” and “federal resources should be focused on making targeted investments that can leverage private sector investment and incentivize the creation of revenue streams where possible.”
“Voters in this region stood up and voted to tax themselves to provide a path out of crippling congestion,” Rogoff said. “For that, they should be rewarded at the federal level, not punished.”
The $54 billion ST3 measure (which does not include the Lynnwood or Tacoma Link Expansion projects) anticipated $4.7 billion of funding coming from the federal government.
The entire press release can be read here.
The Lynnwood Link Extension project hit a roadblock in late August when Sound Transit announced the project was $500 million over budget. Rogoff ordered a six-month pause to value-engineer the line and recover some of the cost increases — delaying the opening until mid-2024.