Thank you, Ron.
It’s great to be here to join with all of you today to help dedicate the permanent Sounder Station at Freighthouse Square. Because of all of you and all your work, Sounder Commuter Rail and the Tacoma Dome Station are great successes!
Sounder has been moving people between Seattle and Tacoma for more than three years. When the temporary station opened in 2000, it had just over 5,000 daily riders. Today, the Seattle-Tacoma trains have more than 13,000 daily riders. The success of Sounder is being felt not just here in Tacoma, but throughout the Puget Sound region. Sounder is expanding further South and will soon begin to run North from Seattle to Everett.
A critical part of that North-South Sounder link is this Tacoma Dome Station. In fact, I think this station is a model for our region in the choices and the access it provides. It houses 2400 parking spaces and is served by Pierce Transit, Sound Transit Express Buses, and Tacoma Link Light Rail. Thousands of South Sound residents can now come to this station and have a variety of options to reach nearly every destination in the region – along with easy access to shops, concessions and the Tacoma Dome.
This project has been a partnership of so many people and organizations, and in the United States Senate I’ve been proud to make the federal government a strong partner in our success. As the Ranking Member on the Transportation, Treasury and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, I have provided over $60 million in federal earmarks over the last four years for Sounder. Over that time, I’ve also provided significant federal funding for Pierce Transit and for Sound Transit Express Buses. Finally, I’ve helped provide over $15 million for the Tacoma Dome Station facility. That federal support – along state, local and private funds -- have made this vision a reality.
Let me just close by saying that this is the type of investment that strengthens both our economy today and tomorrow. The construction phase of this project has created good-paying jobs here in the community. And, now that it’s complete, this station will help our citizens become more productive by making transportation easier and bring more business to the region as well – creating jobs for our future.
We know that improvements like this can spark much broader progress in the community. The remarkable redevelopment of downtown Tacoma has taken place -- in part -- because of the improvements in transportation that we’ve been working on. So it’s an honor for me to be here today and to help celebrate with all of you, the great success our partnership has produced.