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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Loans of Up to $327 million for Improvements to the Sound Transit System in Washington State

Friday, May 5, 2023

Improved Light Rail Service Will Connect Community to Jobs, Reduce Emissions

Washington – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that its Build America Bureau has provided low-interest loans totaling $327 million to the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) for improvements to the transit system. By providing Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) Loans. The Bureau helps communities expedite infrastructure projects and reduce project costs.  

“DOT's $327 million in loans to support Sound Transit’s light and commuter rail lines supports an alternative to car travel on congested roadways and improve connections to jobs, healthcare, and educational opportunities,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “Construction of these three new projects will reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality.”

The TIFIA and RRIF loans will finance three projects:

  • Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension (TIFIA loan for $93.3 million, 33 percent of total $282.7 million cost), which will
    • Extend light rail line by 2.4 miles
    • Build six new stations and relocate one station
    • Purchase five new light rail vehicles
    • Improve bike/pedestrian infrastructure
    • Expand an operations and maintenance facility
  • Elevated Light Rail Platform Along Lynnwood Link Extension (TIFIA loan for $79.3 million, 33 percent of total $240.2 million cost), which will:
    •  Build a new light rail station in North Seattle
    • Build new bus and paratransit facilities
    • Add sidewalk and bike infrastructure
  • Sounder Access Improvements (RRIF loan for $154.2 million, 49 percent of total $314.6 million cost), which will:
    • Improve access for hundreds more people at three stations
    • Construct new sidewalks and improve street lighting
    • Expand existing, insufficient parking facilities for transit users without the ability to walk or bike to a station

“Sound Transit is our largest borrower, now at $4.17 billion,” said Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “They are leveraging low-interest financing to build critical projects that will benefit passengers for years to come.” 

Sound Transit estimates the loans will save $245 million through 2046, when the agency's voter-approved expansion plan is expected to be completed, and a total of $445 million over the entire life of the three loans. 

“Strong partnership with the federal government is crucial to our success, and these loans signal a shared commitment to reinvest in the nation’s infrastructure and help us build the transit network our region needs,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We thank USDOT and our congressional delegation for investing in residents’ future.” 

The Build America Bureau advances investment in transportation infrastructure by lending Federal funds to qualified borrowers; clearing roadblocks for credit worthy projects; and encouraging best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operations. The Bureau draws on expertise across DOT to serve as the point of coordination for states, municipalities, private partners, and other project sponsors seeking Federal financing.

To date, the DOT has closed more than $38.9 billion under TIFIA financing program, supporting more than $133 billion in infrastructure investment across the country and $7.6 billion under RRIF program.