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Sound Transit restores funding for two light-rail extensions


Sound Transit's board late last week restored funding for preliminary engineering on the Federal Way and Redmond Link light-rail extensions, which gives agency staff the green light to move forward with design on the two projects.

Photo: Sound Transit

Voters approved funding for the extensions' preliminary engineering work in the 2008 Sound Transit 2 (ST2) ballot measure, but the recession in 2007 through 2009 wiped out $4.2 billion in projected tax revenue. In response, the Sound Transit board in 2010 initiated an ongoing "realignment process" to bring project plans in line with the lower revenue forecast, agency officials said in a press release. This included suspending some projects and project phases until funding could be identified.

Recent projects show the recession's cumulative impact on ST2 funding through 2023 will represent an approximate 26.8 percent reduction, improved from the earlier forecast of 29.7 percent. Under current forecasts, sufficient resources now exist for restoring preliminary engineering on the Federal Way and Redmond Link extensions, agency officials said.

Staff will continue to monitor the financial plan and work to advance several other suspended projects where possible. Late last month, Sound Transit's board restored funding for access improvement projects at commuter-rail stations in Auburn and Kent, Wash.

Following the realignment of ST2 projects, the agency's board determined that funding was available to move forward with constructing the Federal Way extension from South 200th Street in SeaTac to Kent/Des Moines, Wash. In 2012, the board approved an additional $24 million o develop a shovel-ready plan for extending the light-rail route to downtown Federal Way, Wash., when funding becomes available.

Final design on the 2.5-mile segment to Kent/Des Moines begins in 2017, with service starting in 2023, agency officials said.

The Redmond Link project will extend the East Link light-rail line by 3.7 miles from the Redmond Technology Center to downtown Redmond, Wash.