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Sound Transit's board yesterday approved a $1.1 billion budget for 2014 that continues major light-rail expansions and updates the regional transit long-range plan.The overall budget is "relatively unchanged" from 2013, Sound Transit officials said in a press release.The budget contains funding for several major light-rail capital and planning projects, including $146.9 million for the University Link construction; $141.1 million for East Link final design; $138.6 million for the Northgate Link Extension tunnel mining and start of station construction; $31.2 million to continue project development for light-rail extensions south from South 200th Street to Federal Way and north from Northgate to Lynnwood; $21.8 million to finish construction of the First Hill Streetcar in Seattle; and $2.7 million for continued alternative analysis and community engagement for Tacoma Link expansion options.Also included is $221 million for the service delivery, operations and vehicle maintenance necessary to transport an anticipated 31.2 million riders on Sound Transit trains and buses. Covered under the service delivery budget is the first full year of funding for the 10th round-trip Sounder train between Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.; and maintaining service levels on Central Link light-rail in Seattle and Tacoma Link light rail.To prepare for future needs, the budget allocates $15.1 million to complete high-capacity corridor planning studies and update the long-range regional transit plan. Next year, the agency will continue a process begun in 2010 to realign plans for delivering Sound Transit 2 projects and services that voters approved in 2008 with current revenue forecasts following the impact of the national recession.With sales tax revenue still not recovered to 2007 levels, revenue through 2023 is now projected to be 29 percent lower than assumed in 2008, Sound Transit officials said."Once again, 2014 will be a busy year for Sound Transit as it plans and builds for the future and keeps us moving today," said Sound Transit Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.
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