The extension of Tacoma’s downtown streetcar line to the Hilltop via the Stadium District on Monday received a $15 million federal grant that long has been regarded as critical money to build the $165 million project.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, each announced the award of the federal Department of Transportation grant to the city for the Tacoma Link expansion project Monday morning.
A Transportation Department spokeswoman said she could not provide information about the money, which is being awarded under a federal program scheduled to put $500 million toward transportation infrastructure this year.
Tacoma’s grant means outside money is paying for $33 million of the city’s $40 million obligation of the project.
The work will build out Link from its current 1.6-mile, six-stop downtown run to a 12-station route of more than double that length.
Most of the money for the project is to come from other sources, mainly $50 million in Sound Transit tax revenues from the agency’s 2008 ballot proposal and a $75 million expenditure in President Obama’s budget proposal.
With Tacoma’s share of the funding in place — the city has committed to paying the remaining $7 million — the Sound Transit board could vote as soon as its November meeting to officially move plans on the project along, Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said.
She said the agency is “thrilled” by the $15 million grant award, though the remaining $75 million needs to get through Congress before construction plans are set.
Murray and Kilmer each said the Link work will help expand economic opportunities in Tacoma’s neighborhoods. If all the money comes through as hoped, construction of the expanded line is to start in 2017 or 2018.