The Sound Transit agency claimed a budget victory this week, when the Bush administration included $100 million for a light-rail project in the proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2009.

The agency’s University Link light-rail plan was one of two projects that received funding in advance of full funding grant agreements the Federal Transit Administration expects to award in the near future.

The University Link project is a three-mile underground rail line that will connect downtown Seattle with the University of Washington campus across Lake Union.

The university extension is expected to open in 2016. In downtown Seattle it will link up with a light-rail line, opening in 2009, that connects the city with its airport.

The federal New Starts program will contribute $750 million toward the $1.8 billion University Link project, according to the FTA.

“The president’s budget offers more fantastic news for the region as we work to build fast, frequent, reliable, and sustainable options for commuters,” Seattle Mayor and Sound Transit board chairman Greg Nickels said in a news release. “As chair, one of my top priorities is to secure a full funding grant agreement for University Link and this is an important step.”

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