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Sound Transit has secured $75 million in federal funding for extending the Tacoma Link light-rail line.The funds, which will flow from the Federal Transit Administration's Small Starts program, were included in the $1.1 trillion budget bill approved by Congress last week, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.In addition to the Small Starts funding, the 2.4-mile extension is slated to receive $50 million in tax revenue from the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure and $33 million in other federal and state grants, including a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VII grant."As a major urban center, Tacoma needs 21st century infrastructure to keep pace with its growing economy — and our growing region," said Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine. Voters approved extending the Tacoma Link light-rail system in 2008. The extension will run along Stadium Way to the Hilltop District. Additionally, the project calls for an expanded operations and maintenance facility in Tacoma.The existing 1.6-mile Tacoma Link line serves six stations between the city's Theater District and the Tacoma Dome.Over the next two years, staff will advance engineering work on the project while the preliminary cost estimate of $175 million will be refined, Sound Transit officials said.Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.Meanwhile, Sound Transit's board last week unanimously reelected Constantine as chair for an additional one-year term.Vice Chairs Marilyn Strickland and Paul Roberts also were reelected to their positions for the same length of time.The leaders' extended tenure will help support the board's work to advance a Sound Transit 3 ballot measure to a regional vote in November 2016, agency officials said.
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