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Feds give Sound Transit $24 million to add I-90 HOV lanes, replace Tacoma Trestle

moneySEATTLE — Sound Transit will receive two federal grants totaling $24 million that will help add new HOV lanes across Lake Washington on I-90 and replace the Tacoma trestle bridge that Sounder and Amtrak trains rely on in downtown Tacoma, it was announced Friday.

“Thanks to Sen. (Patty) Murray and the Obama administration, we are now significantly closer to adding new HOV lanes and Link light rail across Lake Washington on I-90 and speeding up the movement of Sounder and Amtrak trains through Tacoma,” said Sound Transit Board Chairwoman and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “The people of our region are blessed with great congressional leaders and a strong partnership with the federal government for moving commuters and our economy forward.”

I-90 project

In preparation for extending Link light rail service across I-90 to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond’s Overlake area, Sound Transit and WSDOT are working together to complete the third and final phase of adding new HOV lanes in both directions to the existing bridges. The new lanes will establish 24-hour HOV capacity in both directions, where today’s reversible lanes only serve westbound vehicles in the morning and eastbound vehicles at night. The project will maintain the current number of general purpose and HOV lanes when the I-90 center lanes are closed in fall 2016 for the construction of light rail.

Tacoma Trestle

Funding of $10 million was also announced for work to replace the Tacoma Trestle Bridge, a timber bridge built in the early 20th century. The replacement project will improve reliability by allowing for two main tracks in an area of Tacoma where Sounder, Amtrak and freight trains all share the same track. The project is anticipated to enter construction in late 2015 and open in 2017.

The project, located just off South 25th Street, will eliminate a bottleneck along a half-mile section from Tacoma Dome Station to East M Street in Tacoma. While there are two tracks on each side of the century-old structure, its single track requires trains to be held frequently, causing congestion and delay.

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