Seattle, Washington/Central Link LRT (MOS-2 and MOS-3)

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Central Link LRT (MOS-2 and MOS-3)

Seattle, Washington

(April 2001)


Sound Transit (Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority) is planning a 23.5-mile Central Link light rail transit (LRT) line running north to south from Northgate, through downtown Seattle, Southeast Seattle and the cities of Tukwila and SeaTac, Washington. Link proposes 23 stations, four new park-and-ride lots, and one existing lot. The system would operate on existing and new right-of-way (ROW), including the existing 1.6-mile Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Sound Transit estimates a total of 156,400 daily riders on the 23.5-mile system in 2020. Total cost estimates for the 20-mile Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is $4.0 billion (escalated dollars).

Sound Transit proposes to implement the system in several minimum operable segments (MOS). The LPA consists of a 20-mile alignment from the NE 45th Street station in Seattle to the S. 200th Street station in the City of SeaTac, including twenty-one (21) stations and three new park-and-ride lots (1,600 spaces). The initial MOS-1 (known as University Link) extends 7.2 miles from the NE 45th Street station southward to the South Lander Street station and is discussed in a separate project profile as an executed FFGA in this report. MOS-2 (known as Airport Link) extends 12.9 miles from the planned operations and maintenance facility near the South Lander Street station south to the South 200th Street station. MOS-3 (known as Northgate Extension) extends 3.5 miles from NE 45th Street northward to Northgate. This project profile addresses MOS-2 and MOS-3. However, New Starts criteria are reported for the 23.5-mile Link project.

The Link LRT system is one element of Sound Transit's voter-approved ten-year, $3.9 billion ($1995) Sound Move regional transit plan, which also includes implementation of a 2-mile LRT line in downtown Tacoma; an 82-mile Sounder commuter rail system operating between Lakewood and Everett; 20 new regional express bus routes; 14 high occupancy vehicle (HOV) direct access ramps (providing access to over 100 miles of existing HOV lanes); 14 new park-and-ride lots and 9 transit centers; and other service improvements.

Central Link LRT Summary Description

Proposed Project Light Rail Line (MOS-2 & MOS-3);
16.3 miles, 13 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $1,350 million1
Section 5309 Share ($YOE) $931 million2
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $104 million3
Ridership Forecast (2020) 156,700 average weekday boardings
(Entire Link Project)
FY 2002 Financial Rating: Not Rated
FY 2002 Project Justification Rating: Not Rated
FY 2002 Overall Project Rating: Not Rated

1 Reflects the capital cost of MOS-2 and MOS-3, not including debt service.

2 Reflects the proposed New Starts share for MOS-2 and MOS-3.

3 Reflects the annual operating cost for the entire 23.5-mile Link project.

The project is Not Rated based on uncertainty in current cost estimates, project schedule and financing plans. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of April 2001. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


The Sound Transit Board adopted the Sound Move regional transit plan in May 1996. Voters approved $3.9 billion in local funding for implementation of the plan in November 1996. A Major Investment Study of Sound Move's services was completed in March 1997. Sound Move is included in the Puget Sound Regional Council's (the area's MPO) Transportation Plan and Regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

FTA approved initiation of preliminary engineering on the Link LRT in July 1997. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in December 1998. The Final EIS was initiated in February 1999 and a Record of Decision issued January 2000. FTA approved final design on a 7.2-mile MOS in February 2000. FTA approved Sound Transitís request to initiate final design on the remainder of the LPA in July 2000. Based on increased costs for rights-of-way, mitigation, and other factors, Sound Transit increased the total project cost for the LPA to

$4.0 billion, including $2.6 billion (including financing and indirect costs) for MOS-1, $1.4 billion for MOS-2 and MOS-3, and about $400 million in finance, art, and other project costs and rescheduled the revenue operations date to November 2009. The Sound Transit Board adopted the revised budget and schedule. In January 2001, FTA entered into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for MOS-1, committing $500 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds.

In April 2001, the DOT Office of Inspector General issued an Interim Report recommending that the Secretary hold funds and funding decisions for the project in abeyance until a specific set of actions related to cost estimation, project scope, cost control, and overall financing plans for the Link LRT project have been addressed. In April 2001, DOT and FTA immediately began implementing these actions.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(85) authorizes the Seattle Sound Move Corridor (Link and Sounder), of which Link is one element, for final design and construction. Through FY 2001, Congress has appropriated $90.97 million for the Link light rail project.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $931.4 $90.97 million appropriated through FY 2001 for the entire Link LRT project
Local: Bonds (Grant Anticipation Notes) $571.6

Total: $1,503.0

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

Map of 23.5-mile Central Link light rail transit line running north to south from Northgate, through downtown Seattle, Southeast Seattle and the cities of Tukwila and SeaTac, Washington including 23 stations.