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One of Seattle’s busiest bus routes gets $64M in federal funding for upgrade

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(The Center Square) – One of Seattle’s most used bus routes received a $64.2 million federal grant to improve reliability and access.

The funding stems from the Federal Transit Administration’ Small Starts Grant Program, which are intended for projects that cost less than $400 million in total and are seeking grant funding of less than $150 million.

The RapidRide J Line project has a total project budget of $128.5 million. Along with the latest federal grant funding, the project also received $9.6 million from the Federal Highway Administration.

Seattle alone is funding the project with $43 million, mostly stemming from the Levy to Move Seattle, which is a nine-year, $930 million levy providing funding to improve and maintain city streets and bridges.

The Center Square reached out to the Seattle Department of Transportation to learn about the levy rate, but did not receive a response at the time of this publication. However, according to the passed legislation, the levy provides roughly 30% of the city’s transportation budget toward road and bridge projects.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and the University of Washington have also contributed $6 million each to the project.

The RapidRide J Line is one of the most used bus routes in Seattle, according to a news release from the city. It connects the downtown area, Belltown, South Lake Union, Eastlake and the University District.

“The RapidRide J Line expands King County’s high-capacity transit network,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “We’re connecting growing communities with fast, frequent service to get people where they want to be, when they want to be there.”

As part of the $128.5 million project, protected bike lanes will be installed along the route, as well as other safety enhancements.

The city will also plant more than 100 new trees and build utility upgrades including a new water main that the city’s public utilities department intends to fund with $28 million.

The project impacts three city-funded works of art that officials will “repair, remake, and restore the damaged and missing artwork prior to reinstallation.”

Service operations along the RapidRide J Line are set to begin in 2027.

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