Does Trump's election threaten federal funding for Puget Sound light rail?

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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In his first speech after winning the presidency, Donald Trump talked about infrastructure.

"We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals," Trump said early Wednesday morning.

Trump did not mention transit, and signals are mixed for people trying to sense if the Trump administration will support expanding Puget Sound light rail.

The Republican Party platform says "we propose to phase out the federal transit program."

But Trump might not follow his party's platform, and in 2015, The Guardian quoted him saying, "we have to spend money on mass transit."

Trump's willingness to pay for trains is a critical question.

The just-passed Sound Transit 3 plan is worth $54 billion, and the plan assumes $4.7 billion of that will come from the federal government, to pay for 13 percent of the capital costs.

"We think that given the president-elect's comments on infrastructure, and rebuilding the nation's cities, they are going to continue to invest in this kind of program," Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff told KIRO 7.

Rogoff also expects the new president will keep the federal tentative commitment of $1.2 billion for expanding light rail to Lynnwood, which voters approved in 2008.

Rogoff was the Federal Transit Administrator under President Obama.

"It has been customary moving from administration to administration that projects that were in the pipeline for federal funds, continue," Rogoff said.

Rogoff also said Sound Transit can make a strong case for federal money because ST3 is mostly funded locally.

"This is not a program where we have our hand out asking the federal government to pay for most of it," Rogoff said. "This is one where we're asking for a federal contribution toward what is largely a locally funded activity."

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