Sound Transit will receive $252 million in federal economic-relief money for the Lynnwood and Federal Way light-rail extensions now under construction and expected to open for service in 2024.
That cash can be considered a down payment on a $1.9 billion boost that Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., have proposed to relieve the local costs for mass transit, their staff members say. California, Minnesota and Illinois are pursuing similar aid.
The money will include $158 million for Federal Way and $94 million for Lynnwood, the senators announced Friday.
Those funds could provide some relief as the agency faces an estimated $7.9 billion shortfall in the voter-approved Sound Transit 3 program, to build 11 bus and train lines between 2024 and the early 2040s.
Voters approved a sales-tax increase to pay for the Federal Way and Lynnwood lines in 2008. The Federal Transit Administration later committed $790 million to the $3.2 billion project from Angle Lake to Federal Way, and $1.2 billion to the $3.3 billion project from Northgate to Lynnwood.
FTA also extended $630 million in low-interest loans for Federal Way.
The rationale for this week’s additional money, as outlined by Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, is to reimburse Seattle-area taxpayers, who are on the hook for an unusually high percentage of those two projects.
The Seattle area spends more, per capita, to build new transit than anywhere else in the country.