Friday, February 24, 2012

Sound Transit board approves $24 million budget amendment

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The Seattle-area's Sound Transit Board of Directors unanimously approved an amendment to the agency's 2012 budget to provide $24.3 million in additional funding for establishing a shovel-ready plan to extend light rail from S. 200th Street to the heart of Federal Way.

The plan gives the agency a green light to immediately move forward with a conceptual engineering study, environmental review process and record of decision on a route not only to S. 272nd Street, which voters approved in the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure in 2008, but all the way to the Federal Way Transit Center. Determining a specific route and more accurate cost estimates will support efforts to identify financing for constructing the line south of the Kent/Des Moines area.

The amendment was sponsored by Sound Transit Board and King County Council Member Pete von Reichbauer, who on Feb. 6 announced the proposal at a news conference with Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, Board Member and King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Board and King County Council Members Julia Patterson and Joe McDermott.

"I am pleased the Board has approved our plan for extending light rail further south to the Federal Way Transit Center," said von Reichbauer. "As a major transportation hub in the region, the transit center serves thousands of people every day. Making it a destination for light rail will improve transit services for all the citizens of South King County and strengthen Sound Transit's ability to pursue funding for construction once a record of decision has been obtained."

Planning for the extension is slated to begin with an alternatives analysis this summer. Public workshops will take place this fall. There will also be a series of open houses conducted in the summer of 2013 as the agency moves forward with conceptual engineering and developing a draft EIS. A final EIS review process will take place in 2015, followed by board selection of the project to be built and a record of decision from the Federal Transit Administration in 2016.

Final design for the segment between S. 200th and Kent/Des Moines is scheduled to be complete by 2019, with construction beginning that same year.
Testing would begin in late 2022 with service to Kent/Des Moines starting in 2023. Grant and other funding will need to be secured to construct an extension south of Kent/Des Moines.

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