U.S. Senator Patty Murray on Friday announced that Community Transit is one of five Washington state agencies that will receive new Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Small Start program awards administered by the Federal Transportation Administration for transit projects. The funding for the awards comes from the American Rescue Plan.
Community Transit will receive a $6.5 million allocation of American Rescue Plan funding to construct their third Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project — with 13 stations planned between Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood and the McCollum Park and Ride in Mill Creek. The Swift Orange Line is an 11.3-mile BRT corridor that will connect with two other Swift BRT lines, as well as Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension light rail project. Swift Orange Line is scheduled to begin operating by March 2024.
Other projects receiving funding include the Spokane Transit Central City Line project, the Sound Transit Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension project, the Seattle Department of Transportation Madison Street BRT project, and the Clark County Public Transit Benefit Area Authority Mill Plain BRT project.
“One thing I hear across our state—from Spokane to Seattle and everywhere in between—is that people want more public transit options,” Murray said. “Whether it’s to shorten commutes, decrease traffic, reduce emissions, create jobs, or make our communities more equitable, the demand for transit has been a constant refrain across our state that I’ve heard loud and clear and taken back to the other Washington. This funding from the American Rescue Plan means local taxpayers will save money on new buses and light rail, and I’m going to keep working to see these projects through and make sure the other Washington keeps listening to the people of our state.”
The CIG program is a discretionary funding program for the construction and expansion of new and existing fixed-guideway public transit systems such as heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars, ferries, and certain corridor-based bus systems. Agencies applying to the CIG program work closely with the FTA through rigorous project development and engineering phases, after which the FTA decides whether to give the project a grant agreement and the corresponding federal dollars.
“Such incredible news for this community and transit users,” said Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz. “Swift Orange Line will expand the bus rapid transit network to connect with light rail, providing faster and more frequent service to get people from where they are to where they want to be.”
Earlier this year, Murray introduced the Public Transit Capital Investment Relief Act of 2021. The legislation would provide relief for public transportation agencies through the CIG Program by increasing the federal cost share of the total project cost for qualifying projects that are under construction or near completion. In Washington state, there are currently two major transit projects that would qualify for an increase in federal cost sharing under the legislation: the Lynnwood Link Extension and the Federal Way Link Extension. Senator Murray’s legislation would increase funding for the Lynwood Link Extension by a projected $978 million and for the Federal Way Link Extension by $948 million.