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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Sound Transit's light-rail system receives federal funds, wins appellate court ruling


Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently endorsed a $500 million full funding grant agreement for Sound Transit’s Central Link light-rail system. During the next 60 days, Congress plans to review the agreement.

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation has earmarked $183 million for FTA in 2004 to provide funds for New Starts projects that don’t yet have full funding grant agreements. Sound Transit is in a good position to compete with other projects since FTA rated Central Link as one of two "highly recommended" projects in the country, and President Bush authorized $75 million in the proposed fiscal-year 2004 budget for the first installment of the grant agreement, Sound Transit officials said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently affirmed an earlier U.S. district court ruling to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Save Our Valley (SOV), a group opposed to the light-rail system running through Rainier Valley, a south Seattle community populated mostly by minorities.

Two years ago, SOV filed the suit claiming Sound Transit violated U.S. Department of Transportation’s "disparate impact" regulation, which prohibits federal funding recipients from taking actions that discriminate against race.

The 4.6-mile segment through Rainier Valley would be built at street level, which valley residents believe would envelop residential and commercial property, displace community facilities, disrupt business and cause safety problems. Most light-rail segments being built through other communities are designed to be elevated above street level.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/14/2003