SEATTLE public transport agency Sound Transit will receive up to $US 3.84bn in Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) federal government loans to finance the Downtown Redmond Link Extension and refinance five additional projects, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced.

The USDOT estimates that the loans will save Sound Transit - the regional transit system serving the Seattle and Central Puget Sound area in Washington State - more than $US 630m over their term and help advance the agency’s projects.

Sound Transit’s loan package covers:

  • replacing the current loan for the 6.9km, three-station Northgate Link Light Rail Extension, which is scheduled to open for passenger service on October 2
  • refinancing the Operations and Management Facility East projects that will support the agency’s growing fleet, as well as three light rail extensions: the 22.5km, 10-station East Link, which is slated to open in 2023; the 13.6km, four-station Lynnwood Link, which is expected to open in 2024; and the 12.5km, three-station Federal Way Link, also due to start service in 2024, and
  • financing the under-construction 5.4km, two-station Downtown Redmond Link Light Rail Extension, which is expected to open in 2024.

The Build America Bureau administers the TIFIA credit programme, which was established under the Obama Administration as a “one-stop-shop to streamline credit opportunities while also providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative best practices in project planning, financing, delivery and operation,” according to the USDOT. “The Bureau has the resources and full commitment to provide additional flexibility and financial assistance to transportation projects in regions impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic to minimise the negative effects and aid in the recovery from this crisis.”

“Refinancing our earlier TIFIA loans will create more than $US 630m in savings for our region’s taxpayers, helping us deliver the largest transit infrastructure programme in the country as quickly as we can,” says Sound Transit CEO, Mr Peter Rogoff. “Expanding the programme to include the Downtown Redmond Link Extension expands our savings still further. With our population growing and our planet warming, the stakes are high, and we are creating truly impactful benefits.”

Responding to a $US 6.5bn affordability gap, the Sound Transit Board adopted a realignment plan in August that guides delivery dates for voter-approved transit projects that are not already under construction.

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