President Trump had proposed cutting money for several Puget Sound area transit projects, as part of his budget outline. The new budget deal from congressional leaders would preserve the money through September.
The bipartisan budget deal forged by congressional leaders would continue to fund — through the end of September — several Puget Sound region transit projects that have had their funding threatened by President Trump’s proposed budget.
Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, which lawmakers will grapple with in the coming weeks and months, would cut funding to as many as seven transit lines in Washington state, including Sound Transit’s light-rail extension from Northgate to Lynnwood.
Sound Transit had been counting on a nearly $1.2 billion federal grant to pay for half the cost of the Lynnwood light rail line. And while that money remains in jeopardy, the project will be funded at previously anticipated levels, at least for the remainder of this year.
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The budget deal gives the Lynnwood line the first $100 million installment of that grant, the amount it was scheduled to receive.
“This is certainly a very encouraging development,” Geoff Patrick, a Sound Transit spokesman, wrote, noting the agency is still waiting on full congressional approval.
Also in the budget deal are $50 million for the Center City Connector, which would extend the Seattle Streetcar on First Avenue, and $43 million for the Swift 2 bus-rapid transit line, a route through Canyon Park, Mill Creek, South Everett and Paine Field.
Andrew Glass Hastings, with the Seattle Department of Transportation, said the budget deal was “really great news” and would enable them to secure the full funding for the streetcar (an additional $25 million) in a future budget.
Kerry Arndt, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who serves on the Appropriations Committee that controls spending, said that securing the money in this year’s deal would make budget negotiations easier going forward.
“When Democrats and Republicans work together and reject President Trump’s demands, we can make progress and get things done for the families we represent, including badly-needed investments in our nation’s infrastructure,” Murray said in a written statement.
The deal also includes $500 million in funding for the TIGER infrastructure program, which was created by Murray in 2009 and helped fund the improvements to Mercer Street in Seattle, a new ferry terminal in Mukilteo and the Tacoma light-rail extension.
Trump had proposed eliminating the TIGER program entirely.