Congress approves $75M for Tacoma Link light rail expansion

Sound Transit officials announced Friday Congress has approved legislation that directs approximately $75 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Small Starts program to the $175 million project to expand Link light rail service in Tacoma.

In February, U.S. President Barack Obama announced his administration had allocated the funding as part of the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (see “Sound Transit: Obama budget includes $75M for Tacoma Link light rail expansion,”  Tacoma Daily Index, Feb. 3, 2015). Congress approved the budget today.

The 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail line currently serves six stations between the Theater District and Tacoma Dome Station. In 2008, voters approved a partnership to extend the Tacoma Link light rail system. Sound Transit Board of Directors have approved a 2.4-mile extension that will run along Stadium Way to the Hilltop District and include one relocated station and six new stations (see “Sound Transit Board selects alignment, stations for Tacoma Link expansion,” Tacoma Daily Index, Nov. 19, 2015). The extension also includes an expanded Tacoma Operations and Maintenance Facility next to the existing maintenance facility, and four power substations. During the next two years, Sound Transit staff will advance engineering work on the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.

In addition to the $75 million Small Starts funding approved by Congress today, the project is being paid for using approximately $50 million in Sound Transit 2 revenues and $33 million in other federal and state grants. In October, Sound Transit officials announced the U.S. Department of Transportation had awarded a $15 million grant to help complete the project (see “$15M TIGER grant awarded for Tacoma Link light rail expansion,” Tacoma Daily Index, Oct. 26, 2015). In September, Sound Transit officials announced the Federal Transportation Administration awarded a $2 million grant for transit-oriented development planning along the future Tacoma Link light rail expansion route (see “FTA awards $2M grant for Tacoma Link light rail expansion plan,” Tacoma Daily Index, Sept. 14, 2015).

“I am thrilled federal funding for the Tacoma Link Expansion is approved,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “I thank the Obama Administration for including this project in its proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget, and Congress for passing it. The City of Tacoma and its residents have worked hard for many years with Sound Transit to create a project that will best serve the people who live, work, visit and invest here.”

Downtown Tacoma Link light rail. (PHOTO COURTESY SOUND TRANSIT)

Downtown Tacoma Link light rail. (PHOTO COURTESY SOUND TRANSIT)

To read the Tacoma Daily Indexs complete and comprehensive coverage of Tacoma Link light rail expansion plans, click on the following links: