Sound Transit’s $1.99B TIFIA loans to help build four rail projects

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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A $1.99 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) agreement between Sound Transit and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will support the construction of three light-rail extensions and a maintenance facility.

“This announcement demonstrates that the Build America Bureau is already playing a major role in how projects are planned and paid for by streamlining the financing process and bringing together valuable tools for accessing federal dollars. This means projects contemplated under the Master Credit Agreement can move forward more quickly and effectively,” said USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We are proud of the work done through the Bureau to speed investments needed in growing regions like the Pacific Northwest. This development is a big win for the entire region.”

Sound Transit will use the loans to support four rail projects including:

  • $615.3 million for Northgate Link – 4.3-mile extension from the University of Washington Station at Husky Stadium to Northgate Mall, opening in 2021.
  • $657.9 million for Lynnwood Link – 8.5-mile extension from Northgate to the Lynnwood Transit Center, opening in 2023.
  • $629.5 million for Federal Way Link Extension – 7.5-mile extension from South 200th Street in the City of SeaTac to the Federal Way Transit Center, opening in 2024.
  • $87.7 million for New Operations and Maintenance Facility, which will support a growing light rail system serving trains to Lynnwood, Bellevue/Overlake and Kent/Des Moines.

“The people of Puget Sound are fortunate to benefit from strong partnerships with the U.S. Department of Transportation as we build the mass transit network our region desperately needs,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “Securing the nation’s first master credit agreement will help ensure that more of our tax dollars are spent providing a path out of traffic than on borrowing costs.”

Sound Transit estimates that the TIFIA loans will provide long-term savings of between $200 million and $300 million for regional taxpayers. The $200 million to $300 million of savings are forecasted to accrue over the 35-year lives of the loans and are in relation to the borrowing costs assumed in Sound Transit’s financial plan.

Sound Transit says it applied for the loans to insulate the agency from unexpected downturns in the economy and provide taxpayers savings from agency borrowing costs.