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Trump budget slashes money for Puget Sound light rail expansion

(KIRO 7 image)

By Graham Johnson

President Trump’s newly-released budget would put Puget Sound regional transit expansion in jeopardy by slashing funding for Sound Transit’s light rail extensions to Lynnwood and Federal Way.

Work on Lynnwood Link, between Northgate and Lynnwood, was to begin next year so service could begin in 2023.

Related: Trump’s budget boosts military and cuts GOP, Dem favorites

Sound Transit says it was in the final stages of securing $1.17 billion in federal funding for the project, a major chunk of the total $1.9 billion for the segment.

President Obama’s 2017 budget allocated an initial payment of $125 million, but President Trump’s 2018 budget would take that to zero.

The president’s budget blueprint ends funding for transit programs without existing full federal agreements.

According to the budget document, “Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.”

A light rail extension to Federal Way, scheduled to open in 2024, assumed $500 million from the federal government.

Should President Trump’s budget pass Congress, decisions on how to keep the light rail expansion moving with local tax dollars would be made by Sound Transit’s board.

Projects could be delayed as money is shifted.

In November, voters passed a $54 billion transit expansion over 25 years.

About half of that funding would come from local property, sales, and car tab taxes.

The other half assumes other sources, including federal funds.

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