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Federal funding ‘major risk’ for Madison Bus Rapid Transit

$60 million in federal funding is the biggest risk for the $120 million project planned to bring Bus Rapid Transit to Madison between 1st Ave and MLK via downtown, First Hill, Capitol Hill, and Madison Valley.

The project was one of a handful examined recently as part of City Hall’s new quarterly report on Seattle’s largest capital projects. The Seattle Department of Transportation says the much needed Federal Transit Authority grant “is a major risk.”

“FTA Small Starts Grant funding approval and cash flow availability is unclear with the current Presidential administration,” the brief on Madison BRT reads. “This could result in a four year delay to construction and could have accompanying cost risk, but that cannot be quantified at this time.”

In August, CHS reported on another risk for the project — challenges in selecting a bus fleet capable of serving the route for King County Metro. SDOT now says the original plan for battery powered buses will likely be scrapped in favor of diesel-hybrid coaches.

In August, SDOT said it was planning for a 2020 start of construction on the route opening the door for a 2022 start of service.

It’s not clear what Tuesday’s Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives could mean for any federal funding for the project.

Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, who is set to become head of the House transportation committee in January, “wants the White House to back significant additional federal funds to rebuild crumbling U.S. roads, bridges and airports,” Reuters reported. DeFazio said Wednesday he hoped the House could approve infrastructure legislation in the first six months of 2019.

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