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Tuesday, September 03, 2013    

Sound Transit to receive $24 million in TIGER V grants


Sound Transit will receive two federal grants totaling $24 million to fund projects that will support Link light-rail service across Lake Washington, and create new Sounder and Amtrak capacity in Tacoma, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced late last week.

Granted through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) V program, the funds will be used to help add high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in preparation for extending Link light-rail services across Lake Washington on Interstate 90 and to replace the Tacoma Trestle Bridge, which will improve reliability for Sounder and Amtrak trains, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.

In preparation for extending Link light-rail service across I-90 to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond's Overlake area, Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are working to complete the third and final phase of adding new HOV lanes in both lanes to existing bridges. The new lanes will establish 24-hour HOV capacity in both directions; the current reversible lanes only serve westbound vehicles in the center lanes and will be closed in fall 2016 for light-rail construction, they said.

The proposed Tacoma Trestle Bridge replacement qualified for $10 million in TIGER V funds. The project is designed to improve reliability for allowing two main tracks in an area of Tacoma where Sounder, Amtrak and freight trains all share the same track. The project is expected to begin in late 2015 and conclude in 2017.

Located just off South 25th, the project is designed to eliminate a bottleneck along a 0.65-mile section from Tacoma dome Station to East M Street in Tacoma. Although there are two tracks on each side of the century-old structure, its single track requires trains to be held frequently, which causes traffic congestion, Sound Transit and WSDOT officials said.

The bridge replacement is part of coordinated investments made by WSDOT, Sound Transit, Tacoma Rail, BNSF Railway Co., Amtrak, the federal government and other partners that have invested more than $1 billion into passenger-rail facilities in the Pacific Northwest rail corridor, they said.

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