The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, March 10, 2008

President Bush's Budget includes $100 million for University Link

Sound Transit may get $100 million boost 2/5/08


Sound Transit's University Link could receive a $100 million boost, thanks to an announcement made Monday by the Bush administration.

President Bush has included $100 million in his fiscal year 2009 budget for the 3.2-mile light rail extension from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington -- an unprecedented single-budget allocation for the light rail project, Sound Transit officials said.

The money is a vote of confidence and will allow groundbreaking to proceed on schedule this fall, said Ric Ilginfritz, Sound Transit's executive director for policy and public affairs.

"It's tremendous news; this is absolutely what we'd hope for," Ilginfritz said. "It makes the north line viable ... and we'll be able to roll from construction of the south line right into construction of the north line."

Bush's budget also proposes spending $36 million to help complete a project to deepen 103 miles of the Columbia River sooner than expected.

The president's budget request would boost annual spending by $6 million to complete the channel deepening next year, instead of 2010 as planned.

Northwest lawmakers hailed the proposal, which they said would save money and allow the region to reap the economic benefits of the deepening project a year earlier than expected. A deeper Columbia River "means more jobs, more trade and smarter use of energy," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

But the Columbia project was one of the few bright spots for the Northwest as President Bush released his final spending request.

The $3.1 trillion plan would slash funding for the Forest Service, for cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and for the restoration of Puget Sound, among other projects, Northwest lawmakers said. Bush is relying on spending cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to help ensure the budget blueprint is balanced, at least on paper, in a time of war.

Congressional Democrats said they would make major changes before the plan, which covers the budget year that begins Oct. 1, is adopted.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., chairman of the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee, called cuts proposed for the Forest Service "breathtaking," adding that Bush's plan could result in a layoff of nearly 1,200 employees -- 10 percent of the agency's work force

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that with his final budget request, Bush "gave us more of the same. More promises, fewer dollars. More rhetoric, less investment in America."

Bush's plan would cut spending for Pacific salmon recovery from $67 million this budget year to $35 million next year, a figure Murray said would threaten efforts to restore and protect salmon habitat.

But Sound Transit's Ilginfritz said the allocation also bodes well for Sound Transit's hopes for a $750 million Full Funding Grant Agreement to complete the light rail line. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to make a final decision on the grant by late spring or early summer. The FTA has already given the rail line its highest rating for proposed transit projects nation-wide.

Sound Transit is expected next year to open its 15.6-mile south line from downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport. The president included $28.8 million to finish that line, the final installment of a previously awarded $500 million grant.

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