President Donald Trump’s proposed $200 billion infrastructure spending plan announced Monday doesn’t increase spending for public transit infrastructure and would impact transit across the country, and here in Washington State.
An article in today’s Olympian newspaper says Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate federal funding for future transit lines, from Seattle’s downtown streetcar, to light rail between Northgate and Lynnwood, to Spokane Transit’s future Central City Line.
The good news though is that analysts say Trump’s budget and his infrastructure plan aren’t likely to become law. He asked for similar cuts to transit programs last year, but the budget agreement that was finally decided upon looks little like Trump’s original proposal.
In Washington, the hardest hit under Trump’s proposal would be Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link project, which could lose nearly $1.2 billion in federal funding, half the project’s entire cost. Sound Transit’s light rail line between Angle Lake and Federal Way would lose almost $500 million. In total, eight Washington State transit projects would lose funding under the 2019 budget proposal, all which were expected to receive New Starts grants from the Federal Transit Administration. Trump’s budget would eliminate the New Starts program. Nationally, 70 transit projects are seeking or anticipating New Starts funding.
Trump officials say New Starts won’t be needed because the new infrastructure program will incentivize states and cities to raise new revenue to fund projects. The plan would only allow federal funding to cover 20 percent of an individual project. The infrastructure plan also includes selling off government-owned assets, such as airports and highways, if agencies think operating them privately would help each state’s financial position.