The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on May 5 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.
According to USDOT, 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.”
The TIFIA and RRIF loans will finance three Sound Transit projects, including:
- Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension (TIFIA loan for $93.3 million, 33% 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; and expand an operations and maintenance facility.
- Elevated Light Rail Platform Along Lynnwood Link Extension (TIFIA loan for $79.3 million, 33% of total $240.2 million cost), which will build a new light rail station in North Seattle; build new bus and paratransit facilities; and add sidewalk and bike infrastructure.
- Sounder Access Improvements (RRIF loan for $154.2 million, 49% of total $314.6 million cost), which will improve access for hundreds more people at three stations; construct new sidewalks and improve street lighting; and expand existing, insufficient parking facilities for transit users without the ability to walk or bike to a station.
According to Sound Transit, the agency estimates the loans will save $245 million through 2046, when its voter-approved expansion plan is expected to be completed, and a total of $445 million over the entire life of the three loans.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
To date, USDOT 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.