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Sound Transit CEO pleads with Congress not to eliminate critical funding

If Sound Transit loses federal funding, it could mean delays and higher costs for many expansion projects promised to voters. (Sound Transit)

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff is pleading with Congress to keep the funding threatened by President Trump’s federal budget intact.

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Sound Transit would lose billions under Trump’s budget. That would negatively impact seven transit lines or corridors, including several new light rail lines.

The Northgate to Lynnwood expansion could lose half of its budget — more than $1 billion — if the promised federal funding goes away. The extension from Angle Lake to Federal Way could lose $500 million.

This is all money that was committed to Sound Transit under previous administrations.

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“We assumed a reasonable federal contribution. A very modest federal contribution; just 16 percent of our total program to get these projects delivered, Rogoff said. “It’s somewhat unprecedented for the federal government to sort of turn their back on these projects around the country.”

What would Sound Transit light rail expansion look like without this money?

“We are going to get light rail to these promised communities. We’re going to get bus rapid transit to the Eastside. We’re going to expand commuter rail. It’s not a matter of if, but when. We are going to get to Lynnwood. We are going to get to Federal Way, just like we’re going to get on to Everett and all the way down to Tacoma.

“But without the federal funds we might have to deliver those projects yet later, and that’s a problem because the longer you wait the more expensive the projects get.”

The Lynnwood expansion is still about $300 million over budget because of the increased property values along the future line.

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“We still believe we’re going to be able to deliver the project at $2.9 billion dollars. And we’ve done a risk assessment to that effect. The federal government has done a separate risk assessment and believes it’s going to be slightly higher. We’re working that out with them. We look forward to trying to baseline the project and get a final budget in the months ahead. And we’re hoping to get this federal commitment so we can get contracts underway and shovels in the ground by the end of the year.”

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