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Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sound Transit officials, Seattle mayor visit nation's capital

The Associated Press

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WASHINGTON — Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and executives from Sound Transit met with federal officials today, hoping to show that the agency's light rail project has improved significantly in the last year.

The Transportation Department denied the Link light rail federal funding in April, after the department's inspector general issued a highly critical report of the project.

Ron Sims, King County executive and chairman of the Sound Transit board, said the Puget Sound regional transportation agency has "that document as a guiding light." He said leadership of the agency has evolved from "aggressive to intense," a message he sent to the inspector general during a morning meeting.

After several revisions and quite a few stumbles, Sound Transit is now planning to build a 14-mile light rail line — from downtown Seattle to just north of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — to help ease Seattle's traffic congestion.

To get crucial federal funding, the project will need to win support this year from the Bush administration and some critics in Congress, including Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., transportation spending panel chairman.

"We are going to get it built," Nickels said.

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