Sound Transit plans to start construction later this year on the Federal Way Link extension between SeaTac and Federal Way. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Sound Transit

Sound Transit plans to start construction later this year on the Federal Way Link extension between SeaTac and Federal Way. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Sound Transit

Sound Transit seeks $790 million federal grant for light rail extension

To help pay for project from SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way

Sound Transit will apply later this year for a $790 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to help fund the 7.8-mile extension of light rail from SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way.

The cost of the project is estimated at $3.16 billion, according to Sound Transit documents. The Sound Transit Board on March 28 authorized staff to apply for the federal funds.

“We put in more of our money than federal money on these projects,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff told the board. “We are asking for 25 percent (of the project) from federal funds, so we are hoping that will be looked at favorably.”

Sound Transit receives most of its funding from voter-approved sales taxes, vehicle tab fees and property taxes. Voters approved the $54 billion ST3 package in 2016. The agency has been successful in previous FTA grant applications, including an award of $1.2 billion last November for the 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link extension from Northgate to Lynnwood.

Sound Transit plans to start construction late this year on the extension to Federal Way from SeaTac, including two light rail stations in Kent and one in Kent, and finish the project in 2024.

Agency staff will prepare the application for funds and apply by Sept. 30.

Sound Transit initially had the project budget at $2.45 billion, but the FTA required additional contingency funds that hiked the cost to $3.16 billion.

“Our hope and expectation is that we not spend any of that $460 million,” Rogoff said.

Unlike the previous two years, Rogoff said President Donald Trump’s proposed budget to Congress for 2019 includes funds for mass transit, as Trump moved away from his stance of no new projects. Rogoff said the grant amounts are not paid out in one year but spread across several years. He said the $1.2 billion for the Lynnwood Link will be paid at $100 million per year for 12 years.

Meanwhile, staff is reviewing three requests for proposals by companies seeking to design and build the Federal Way Link extension. The board expects to award that contract in May.

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