January 6, 2011

FTA greenlights L.A. Westside subway extension

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) received federal approval to proceed to the preliminary engineering phase on its Westside subway extension and regional connector (also known as the "Subway to the Sea"), according to a Bloomberg report. To read the full story, click here.

Metro Board Chairman Don Knabe released a statement on the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)'s decision to approve the project:

"Metro has received welcome news from the FTA that it can proceed with preliminary engineering for the subway extension to Westwood and the Regional Connector underground light rail line that will connect the Metro Gold, Blue and future Expo lines, making it easier for passengers to reach their destinations without having to transfer to a bus or another train.

Hopefully, this is a prelude for the FTA partnering with Metro to help pay for construction of these two major transit projects that will attract tens of thousands of new riders. Historically, FTA has funded just one Los Angeles County rail project at a time so this positive action is unprecedented. Competition for federal New Starts rail project funding is extremely competitive across the nation. The FTA news received this week also comes on the heels of a $546 million federal loan commitment for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor light rail project announced last fall.

These actions underscore federal confidence in Metro's ability to deliver public transit improvements to give Los Angeles County motorists a viable alternative for slogging in traffic, and it bodes well for accelerating a dozen local transit projects that two million county voters approved when they voted for the Measure R transit sales tax two years ago.

Metro is leveraging Measure R funds with federal grants and loans to build these countywide rail and bus improvement projects in the next decade instead of spreading them over 30 years, which will save taxpayers money by beating inflation and taking advantage of current low construction bids. This investment in transit infrastructure also will create more than 100,000 new jobs at a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high.

On behalf of the Metro board of directors, I also want to acknowledge and thank the FTA for moving so quickly to advance two projects of this magnitude. I also want to personally thank Sen. Barbara Boxer for championing federal support for the subway extension and the Regional Connector, and we look forward to working with the Senator and her staff as these projects advance."

 

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