President Joe Biden’s proposed budget adds $257 million for the Lynnwood light rail extension, pictured here under construction in March 2022. That money coming earlier could save $40 million that could go toward future projects such as the expansion to Everett. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

President Joe Biden’s proposed budget adds $257 million for the Lynnwood light rail extension, pictured here under construction in March 2022. That money coming earlier could save $40 million that could go toward future projects such as the expansion to Everett. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Biden budget has $250M for Lynnwood light rail

Potential savings could go toward other Sound Transit projects in development, including the Everett extension.

LYNNWOOD — President Joe Biden’s proposed budget includes a potential windfall for light rail projects in Snohomish County.

The budget includes $250 million for the Lynnwood Link light rail expansion from Northgate to Lynnwood. It would accelerate funding and could mean the project can shave $40 million in borrowed money when combined with last year’s federal boost for the Federal Way extension, according to Sound Transit.

The federal infusion coming earlier would mean less money paid for other loans on the project, leading to the potential $40 million in savings.

That cash could go toward other light rail extensions in development across the Sound Transit system in Ballard, Everett, Issaquah, Kirkland, Tacoma and West Seattle.

“President Biden’s major budget commitment to Sound Transit’s ambitious expansion plans underscores the administration’s recognition of the role of transit in our nation’s future,” King County Executive and Sound Transit board Chairman Dow Constantine said in a news release.

The $40 million would amount to a mere slice of the projected $600 million gap for the Everett Link extension.

Without that money, the current plan is for light rail to reach and begin operation north of the Paine Field site by 2041. If the money is secured in time, light rail could begin full Everett service by 2037 along with stations near Alderwood mall, Ash Way, 128th Street SW and Paine Field, as well as the rest of the system.

Sound Transit has almost $2 billion in federal grants for light rail projects to Federal Way and Lynnwood. Federal loans also help with regional taxpayer savings at an estimated $500 million.

Lynnwood’s light rail expansion awaits a decision this spring from the Sound Transit board about whether it would open first with lower service or wait until after East Link is completed.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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