U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood participated in a signing ceremony to commit $135 million to extend the existing Sacramento Light Rail Blue Line by 4.3 miles, linking downtown Sacramento to the growing South Sacramento County corridor.
The expansion offers commuters an alternative to congested Highway 99 while bringing new transit service to Cosumnes River College, one of the area’s major employers.
Ridership on Sacramento’s existing light rail system rose by 7.4% between Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012, and the area population is expected to grow steadily over the next five years as the local economy continues to improve. Extending the Blue Line will improve access to the area’s major employers and encourage new retail and residential development in specially zoned areas.
According to Sacramento Regional Transit, which operates the line, the extension project will generate 1,000 jobs or more over the next two years.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is funding 50% of the $270 million project through its New Starts Program. DOT provided an additional $7.1 million; the remaining cost will be covered by state and local funding.