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.
“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!