Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) today announced that Sound Transit will receive two TIGER grants totaling $24 million. The grants, secured in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation, will help add new HOV lanes across Lake Washington on I-90 and replace the Tacoma trestle bridge that Sounder and Amtrak trains rely on in downtown Tacoma.
“Thanks to Sen. Murray and the Obama administration, we are now significantly closer to adding new HOV lanes and Link light rail across Lake Washington on I-90 and speeding up the movement of Sounder and Amtrak trains through Tacoma,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “The people of our region are blessed with great congressional leaders and a strong partnership with the federal government for moving commuters and our economy forward.”
“We are grateful to Sen. Murray for her leadership to secure funding for projects that connect Washington communities through an integrated multi-modal system,” said Lynn Peterson, Washington State Secretary of Transportation.
The funding comes from the TIGER grant program created in 2009 by Sen. Murray, Chairman of the Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, to fund projects that are of regional economic importance and that help create and save jobs. Sen. Murray supported these and other Washington projects in a recent call with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
In preparation for extending Link light rail service across I-90 to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area, Sound Transit and WSDOT are working together to complete the third and final phase of adding new HOV lanes in both directions to the existing bridges. The new lanes will establish 24-hour HOV capacity in both directions, where today’s reversible lanes only serve westbound vehicles in the morning and eastbound vehicles at night. The project will maintain the current number of general purpose and HOV lanes when the I-90 center lanes are closed in fall 2016 for the construction of light rail.
“I’m thrilled that this funding is going to a project that is supporting local jobs today and that in the long-run is going to help ease the commutes of families and workers on the Eastside,” Sen. Murray said in a news release. “I created the TIGER grant program to help fund projects like this, projects that clear the way for multiple modes of transportation to work together to make travel more efficient and safer. I know this is an area where the rush-hour commute can steal vital time out of the day and that’s why we have to work to build a corridor that accommodates car traffic, buses, carpool lanes and eventually light rail.”
In addition to constructing four miles of HOV lanes and ramps in each direction, the project will preserve pavement and build innovative fire/life/safety and seismic improvements on the bridge and tunnels. The project significantly improves transit and HOV reliability and reduces congestion.
$10 million in funding was also announced today for work to replace the Tacoma Trestle Bridge, a timber bridge built in Tacoma in the early 20th century. The replacement project will improve reliability by allowing for two main tracks in an area of Tacoma where Sounder, Amtrak and freight trains all share the same track. The project is anticipated to enter construction in late 2015 and open in 2017.
The project, located just off South 25th Street, will eliminate a bottleneck along a 0.65-mile section from Tacoma Dome Station to East M Street in Tacoma. While there are two tracks on each side of the century-old structure, its single track requires trains to be held frequently, causing congestion and delay.
The replacement project is part of a set of coordinated investments made by WSDOT, Sound Transit, Tacoma Rail, BNSF Railway, Amtrak, the federal government and other partners that have invested more than $1 billion into passenger rail facilities in the Pacific Northwest rail corridor.