Sen. Patty Murray: $15M TIGER grant awarded for Tacoma Link light rail expansion

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $15 million grant to help complete Tacoma’s Link light rail expansion project, according to a press release issued Monday by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail line currently serves six stations between the Theater District and Tacoma Dome Station. The Sound Transit Board of Directors has identified a preferred alignment to expand Tacoma Link to run an additional 2.4 miles from the Theater District to the Stadium and Hilltop neighborhoods, with six new stations and one relocated station.

The $15 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant aims to help complete the estimated $165 million project, and is the latest in a series of recent grants awarded for the expansion.

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). In February, the Obama Administration announced it had allocated almost $75 million for the Tacoma Link expansion as part of the Federal Transportation Administration “Small Starts” program (see “Sound Transit: Obama budget includes $75M for Tacoma Link light rail expansion,” Tacoma Daily Index, Feb. 3, 2015). The funding was included in the administration’s 2016 budget that is still under consideration by Congress. About $18 million in additional grants have been secured for the project, along with $50 million in Sound Transit funding.

“This is the kind of investment that can transform neighborhoods and help local economies grow and create jobs,” said Murray. “As Tacoma continues to grow, it’s critical that all citizens — including students, workers, and families — have access to safe, reliable transit. I’m proud to keep fighting for the federal TIGER grant program because it continually reinvests in our communities, brings our transit systems into the Twenty-First Century, and helps our economy grow from the middle out, not the top down.”

More information about Tacoma’s Link light rail expansion is available online here.

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

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

UPDATE | TUES., OCT. 27 @ 7:40 A.M. – Sound Transit and the City of Tacoma issued the following press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Oct. 26, 2015

U.S. Dept. of Transportation awards City of Tacoma $15 million in TIGER funding as part of its contribution to Tacoma Link expansion
USDOT grant is latest secured for Sound Transit 2 partnership project approved by voters in 2008

Sen. Patty Murray announced today the award of $15 million in U.S. Department of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funding to the City of Tacoma for the expansion of the Tacoma Link.

“This is the kind of investment that can transform neighborhoods and help local economies grow and create jobs,” said Sen. Murray. “As Tacoma continues to grow, it’s critical that all citizens—including students, workers, and families—have access to safe, reliable transit. I’m proud to keep fighting for the federal TIGER grant program because it continually reinvests in our communities, brings our transit systems into the 21st century, and helps our economy grow from the middle out, not the top down.”

“This is a great day for Tacoma,” said Representative Kilmer. “The continued expansion of light rail will better connect all corners of the city, help locals and visitors get around, and make Tacoma an even more vibrant place. Doubling the line will also help us attract new businesses and opportunities for growth throughout the city. Today, the federal government has teamed up with partners on the local level who have a clear vision of how to improve our region’s mass transit system and keep Tacoma – and its citizens – moving forward.”

“This $15 million TIGER grant follows the $75 million investment President Obama made in his budget, putting the City of Tacoma much closer to the $165 million total cost of the Link expansion,” said Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “With the unwavering support of Senator Patty Murray, we made a compelling case for the local and regional impact of this project. We are excited that the Federal Government is investing locally in light rail to keep our residents, neighborhoods and economy moving forward.”

The $15 million TIGER grant brings the City of Tacoma another step closer to securing its portion of funding for the project. To date, the City has secured $33 million in federal and state grants toward the expansion, and has committed to identifying an additional $7 million, which would complete its $40 million contribution to the project.

In 2008, voters approved a funding partnership to expand the Tacoma Link. In addition to Sound Transit 2 tax revenues and City of Tacoma contributions, the Obama Administration has included $75 million in Federal Transit Administration Small Starts funding in its FY 2016 budget proposal to Congress.

Last year, the Sound Transit Board of Directors, in cooperation with the City of Tacoma, Pierce Transit and community members, identified a preferred alignment for the expansion. The alignment would expand the light rail 2.4 miles from the Theater District to the Stadium and Hilltop districts and includes one relocated and six new proposed stations.

The project is currently at 30 percent design. The Sound Transit Board is scheduled to select the final alignment and station locations for the project, and be briefed on preliminary cost estimates, in November. Following the Board’s decision on the alignment and station locations, the project will move into the final design phase. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018.

The existing 1.6-mile light rail line currently serves six stations between the Theater District and the Tacoma Dome. Trains run every 12 minutes and provide nearly a million rides per year.

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