Sound Transit, the public transit agency serving the Seattle area, said the U.S. Department of Transportation executed a long-term, low-interest loan of $87.7 million “that will reduce regional taxpayers’ costs in constructing a new maintenance base in Bellevue to support upcoming light rail expansions across the region.”
The agency said the loan carries an interest rate of 2.73 percent, and is Sound Transit’s second through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act under a $1.99 billion master credit agreement the USDOT approved last December.
The credit agreement supports four separate Sound Transit projects, the agency said, and is expected to generate long-term savings for regional taxpayers of $200 million to $300 million in lower borrowing costs.
“As our region’s population grows and congestion worsens, we need, more than ever, a mass transit network that connects our communities to jobs and economic opportunity,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “Our strong partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation is essential to helping us meet the demand for fast, reliable transit services.”
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said: “Investing in our infrastructure isn’t just good for workers and families in Puget Sound, it’s also good for the regional economy. As a voice for our state, I’m proud to do what I can at the federal level to advocate for investments in smart, efficient transportation systems, especially when they can save taxpayer money.”
Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said the TIFIA loan “will make possible a second storage and maintenance facility for upcoming light rail expansions.”
The agency said it needs the coming 25-acre Operations and Maintenance Facility East in Bellevue for continuing expansion of the region’s light rail system.
“By 2024,” it said, “the system will grow from 22 to 62 miles and the existing light rail fleet will more than triple in size, from 62 to 214 vehicles. The current facility in Seattle can store and maintain at least 104 light rail vehicles. The new eastside facility will be designed to maintain, store and deploy an additional 96 vehicles.”
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