Top U.S. Transit Official Signs $813 Million Agreement to Fund Construction of the University Link Extension in Seattle, WA

Contact: Dave Longo
Telephone: (202) 680-9237

Commuters and University of Washington students traveling to work, school or other interests will have much easier trips thanks to an $813 million federal agreement from the Bush Administration, announced U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today.

“Well planned, cost-effective transit is a vital part of Seattle’s transportation system,” Secretary Peters said.  “This new extension will make a big difference to those living, going to school and working in the city.” 

“This is a big boost for the Puget Sound region’s economy at a critical time,” said Senator Murray, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, who has worked with FTA and Sound Transit to secure this commitment. “Extending light rail north to the University District will create new construction jobs, reduce congestion and provide an environmentally-friendly way to get around our region. Investing in light rail will keep our residents moving and put people to work.”

Acting FTA Administrator Sherry Little was joined by Sound Transit officials and local leaders today to sign the “full funding grant agreement” which commits the federal funds toward the project.

“You are laying the groundwork for an even brighter future . . . a future where Seattle -- known as ‘Emerald City’ -- is well positioned to compete for jobs and businesses,” Little said.  “Expanding public transportation options in this fast growing area is the right thing to do, and helps preserve the great quality of life this region is known for.”

The 3.1-mile project University Link Extension (U-Link) to the Central Link light rail (LRT) Initial Segment will open by April 2017.  By the year 2030, the line is expected to carry 40,200 daily riders.  The total project cost is $1.9 billion.

When complete, the U-Link  will be located entirely underground with tunnels from the Pine Street Stub Tunnel, under the I-5 freeway to an underground station at Capitol Hill, continuing north beneath SR 520 and the Lake Washington Ship Canal to an underground station on the UW campus, near Husky Stadium.

The line will provide access to 30,000 UW students and 29,000 faculty and staff, ease congestion along Seattle’s most heavily-traveled north-south corridors and provide better access to the area’s largest urban centers -- downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill and the University of Washington District.