Trump Administration cites Seattle’s local support through ballot measures as justification for cutting transit grant program

Elimination of federal matching funds could impact five projects in WA, including Seattle’s Lynnwood Link Extension and Spokane’s Central City Line

Senators in new letter sent today: Voters expect the federal government will be a reliable and responsible partner, and the Administration’s budget request is just another broken promise to our constituents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation,  sent a letter to President Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney harshly criticizing plans to significantly reduce funding for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, which supports public transportation projects in communities across the United States, and eliminate the federal government’s commitment to transit projects in the future. President Trump’s budget specifically names local investments by three major cities, including Seattle, as justification for the budget’s proposal to cut funding for critical regional infrastructure projects that increase mobility and spur economic growth. In the letter, the Senators challenge President Trump’s cuts and chastise the Administration’s position that local investments in transit projects should take place of any federal investment and support.  Besides Seattle, the Trump Administration also named the cities of Los Angeles and Denver, prompting Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to join the letter.

“Public transportation is a vital part of our nation’s transportation network, improving efficiency, increasing economic stability and growth, and providing alternatives to commuters experiencing ever increasing congestion. The success of public transportation as a mobility option is evident in the large demand by communities nationwide that seek to expand transit options to improve the quality of life for all Americans,” the Senators wrote in their letter to Director Mulvaney.

The Senators continued: “For decades under both Republican and Democratic administrations, the federal government has been a partner to communities across the country through the CIG program. As with our roads and highways, voters rightfully expect that the federal government will be a reliable and responsible partner. In this respect, the Administration’s budget request is just another broken promise to our constituents.”

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request slashes the CIG program by $1.18 billion and would only fund projects which already have signed grant agreements with the federal government, which could negatively impact five projects in Washington state already in the CIG program, including:

  • Sound Transit: Lynnwood Link Extension
  • Sound Transit: Federal Way Link Extension
  • Seattle Department of Transportation: Center City Connector streetcar
  • Seattle Department of Transportation: Madison Street bus rapid transit
  • Spokane Transit Authority: Central City Line bus rapid transit

The Senators also criticized the proposed cuts as contrary to Congress’ bipartisan commitment to improving public transit through the FAST Act, which provides $2.3 billion per year for the CIG program.

“We strongly urge you to keep the federal government's promise to communities throughout the nation, respect the will of Congress, and move forward with the CIG projects that meet existing federal requirements. This is critical to commuters, businesses, families, and so many more who rely on our public transportation system to go about their daily lives,” wrote the Senators in their letter.

The reference to the CIG program and Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles can be found on page 76 of President’s Trump’s budget proposal.

The full letter to Director Mulvaney can be found here