Remarks by Sen. Patty Murray on Sound Transit Federal Funding

Feb 03 2003

Today, by budgeting $75 million, the Bush Administration has made the strongest possible statement that light rail has turned the corner

WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Senator Murray today joined Seattle Mayor Greg Nickles, King County Executive Ron Simms and other Sound Transit board members to highlight the Administration's 2004 budget request of $75 million for Sound Transit's Central Link light rail project.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

"Before we begin, I would like to say a word about the 7 heroes who were lost on Saturday. We feel a special loss here in Washington, as Michael Anderson was from Spokane, and Willie McCool trained at Whidbey Naval Air Station. We are grateful for their service to this country and to scientific exploration, and out thoughts and prayers are with their families.

We all know these are tough times for our state, but this morning we have some very good news to report about one of our most pressing challenges.

For years, our transportation problems - from overcrowded highways to overwhelming gridlock - have hindered our economy, our productivity, and our quality of life.

I've been proud to work with community leaders, citizens, and public officials to help lay the foundation for our economic growth, and to ensure the federal government is a strong partner in our efforts.

Today, I am pleased to announce that Sound Transit has received significant funding -- and high priority status -- in the budget the Administration is releasing today. I am very proud to announce that the Administration included $ 75 million for Sound Transit Link Light Rail in its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

This funding and federal support show a strong commitment to Link Light Rail and to improving transportation in the Central Puget Sound.

This funding is the next major installment in the federal government's $500 million commitment to Light Rail. In addition, later today, the project is expected to receive a "highly recommended" rating from the FTA. That will make it one of only a few of the very major transit projects in the nation to be awarded that designation. These are significant milestones, which show that Link Light Rail has really turned the corner and is well on its way to becoming a reality.

For the last two years, Sound Transit -- under the leadership of Joni Earl and Ron Sims -- has worked night and day to get light rail back on track. Today's two announcements show that their efforts have paid off.

I want to thank Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and FTA Administrator Jenna Dorn for sticking with this project, for asking the hard questions, and for demanding answers. I want to particularly thank Secretary Mineta and Administrator Dorn for working with Sound Transit and the community.

I also want to thank the Bush Administration for doing the right thing and honoring the FTA's commitment to this project.

In the short term, it will bring needed construction jobs to our region -- giving our local economy a much-needed shot in the arm. And, in the long term, it will be an important part of our transportation solution -- helping our citizens and businesses become more productive and improving our quality of life. Along with commuter rail and increased bus service, light rail will help complete the transportation system that voters were promised in 1996.

I again want to congratulate Sound Transit and commend all the supporters of light rail who have stuck by this project even when there were difficult questions to answer. We still have much to do, but today's announcement shows that we're on the right track.

As the Senate considers the President's budget, I will use my position on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee to protect this funding throughout the budget process.

Today, by budgeting $75 million, the Bush Administration has made the strongest possible statement that light rail has turned the corner. This financial commitment -- along with the high priority designation -- shows the federal government is committed to Link Light Rail and the benefits it will bring our region. Today's progress is the result of hard work by so many in our community, and it will help strengthen our economy, our productivity and our quality of life."