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Seattle DOT Passes Federal Milestone to Move Forward with Madison Bus Rapid Transit – RapidRide G Line Project

SEATTLE, WA — The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) passed an important milestone with the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) moving the Madison Bus Rapid Transit (Madison BRT) project, also known as the RapidRide G Line, forward in the Small Starts Grant review process. A draft report released by the FTA this month determined SDOT has the resources, skills, capacity, and sound plan necessary to move forward with the Madison Bus Rapid Transit Project.

The Madison BRT - RapidRide G Line will create a fast, frequent, and safe east-to-west public transportation line between 1st Avenue in downtown’s Central Business District and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. This is the culmination of hard work by many at SDOT, the FTA, and across the city to move a project of importance to the transit network forward and move closer to qualifying for the city’s first Small Starts Grant funding, which will cover about 45 percent of total costs toward the transit project.

This report renders the professional opinion regarding SDOT’s readiness to execute the grant agreement. Clearing the way for the final grant agreement, which is necessary for construction, the report concludes that, “the sponsor has the organizational capacity and qualified personnel to plan, develop, manage, and complete the MBRT project and has demonstrated the ability to recognize and mitigate risks.”

A vision put in motion as far back as 2012, critical to building the project is the funding plan. As part of their approval process, the FTA hires independent consultants to review project scope, schedule, and risk. For the Madison BRT project, the FTA hired the PMOC in 2019 to align on a successful Project Management Plan (PMP). As part of an ongoing dialogue, SDOT and the PMOC have worked to collaboratively revise and refine what is now seen as a strong PMP by all parties.

Responding to the latest round of formal feedback SDOT received from the PMOC in late February 2020, SDOT submitted an updated plan in late April 2020. Now, the independent outside experts have submitted their final Project Readiness and Risk Review, finding that SDOT: 

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“[H]as the organizational capacity and qualified personnel to plan, develop, manage, and complete a major capital project, and has demonstrated the ability to recognize and mitigate risks. The sponsor has addressed all the negative capacity and capability findings in the PMOC’s previous report,” and is prepared to “successfully deliver the MBRT within its budget and schedule and in compliance with federal regulations.”

Sam Zimbabwe, SDOT Director, is enthusiastic about the department’s capacity to continue delivering transit projects for our community.

“We believe transportation choices are critical to accessing opportunities, and SDOT has played a central role in delivering these transformational changes for Seattleites," he said. "Despite challenging economic times, we’ve started construction on our Delridge Way SW RapidRide H Line project earlier this summer, and now we’ve reached an important milestone toward delivering the Madison Bus Rapid Transit project."

Once the SSGA is awarded, SDOT will be able to bid the project for construction and advance this investment that will reduce transit travel time, increase reliability, reduce vehicular traffic and pollution in the downtown core, and set in motion the job opportunities and investments it represents.

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