Map of the Federal Way Link extension
A map of the planned Federal Way Link extension (Courtesy of Sound Transit)

Just in time for the hol­i­days, the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion has award­ed Sound Tran­sit near­ly eight hun­dred mil­lion dol­lars in grant fund­ing to extend Link light rail south to Fed­er­al Way. The agency has also been autho­rized to bor­row $629 mil­lion for the project through a low inter­est loan.

This is tru­ly great news for our region and a wel­come yule­tide gift for com­muters. With­in a few years, our grow­ing rail spine will extend into South King Coun­ty, putting reli­able high capac­i­ty tran­sit ser­vice with­in the reach of more people.

Con­struc­tion on Fed­er­al Way Link is expect­ed to begin in ear­ly 2020.

“Secur­ing this fed­er­al fund­ing enables us to ful­fill our promise of deliv­er­ing region­al light rail to the res­i­dents of South King Coun­ty, said out­go­ing Sound Tran­sit Board Chair and Red­mond May­or John Mar­chione. “The tire­less advo­ca­cy of our con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion was instru­men­tal in com­plet­ing this vital step to trans­form peo­ple’s com­mutes and build a more pros­per­ous future for the region.”

“This is excit­ing news for South Sound com­muters look­ing to get relief from ever-increas­ing con­ges­tion,” said Sound Tran­sit Board­mem­ber and King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine. “With major con­struc­tion on Fed­er­al Way Link start­ing in the new year, this announce­ment means South King Coun­ty will soon join a vast region­al light rail net­work con­nect­ing all of the Cen­tral Puget Sound.”

Sound Tran­sit already has the fol­low­ing Link light rail exten­sions under con­struc­tion and queued up for an open­ing in the first half of the 2020s:

  • North­gate Link: Three new sta­tions open­ing in 2021
  • East Link: Ten new sta­tions open­ing in 2023
  • Lyn­nwood Link: Four new sta­tions open­ing in 2024
  • Down­town Red­mond Link: Two new sta­tions open­ing in 2024

Fed­er­al Way and Kent now get to join the par­ty with Fed­er­al Way Link.

Map of the Federal Way Link extension
A map of the planned Fed­er­al Way Link exten­sion (Cour­tesy of Sound Transit)

“Trains on the 7.8‑mile light rail exten­sion from Angle Lake in SeaT­ac to Fed­er­al Way will serve three sta­tions along the route in Kent/Des Moines, at South 272nd Street and at the Fed­er­al Way Tran­sit Cen­ter. Demo­li­tion and util­i­ty relo­ca­tion work began this fall, and con­struc­tion is set to begin in ear­ly 2020,” Sound Tran­sit says.

By 2025, the num­ber of Link sta­tions will have more than dou­bled. There are cur­rent­ly six­teen Link sta­tions; by the mid­way point of the next decade, there will be thir­ty-eight. The goal is to build a one hun­dred and six­teen mile region­al sys­tem by 2041. The ST3 plan calls for exten­sions of the main spine to Everett and Taco­ma and three addi­tion­al new lines to be con­struct­ed in King County.

“When region­al light rail comes to Fed­er­al Way in 2024, not only will our res­i­dents have more tran­sit options, but it will trans­form our down­town for gen­er­a­tions,” said Fed­er­al Way May­or Jim Fer­rell. “Our city will begin to see this project become real when heavy con­struc­tion starts next year and we are excit­ed for the eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties light rail will bring to our residents.”

We con­grat­u­late Sound Tran­sit on hav­ing secured this fed­er­al fund­ing. We’ve known that it was com­ing for a while, but it’s always a relief when the mon­ey actu­al­ly shows up. Fed­er­al Way des­per­ate­ly needs high capac­i­ty transit.

The begin­ning of con­struc­tion will hope­ful­ly demon­strate to peo­ple in South King Coun­ty that Sound Tran­sit is com­mit­ted to serv­ing them and get­ting them con­nect­ed to Link as soon as pos­si­ble. It’s tru­ly a great feel­ing to be able to see crews at work build­ing our trans­porta­tion future. Peo­ple who live and work on the East­side have seen East Link tak­ing shape for sev­er­al years.

Now it’s South King Coun­ty’s turn. Onwards to the groundbreaking!

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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