Expansion of Houston Metro's light-rail system was cleared to receive $900 million as part of two federal Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA), which were signed on Monday.
The money will fund construction of the 5.3-mile North (Red) extension and the 6.6-mile Southeast (Purple) lines, marking the first time rail projects in the region received FFGAs, according to Metro President/CEO George Greanias.
The two $450 million grant agreements are funded through FTA's New Starts capital transit discretionary grant program. The total construction cost for the two lines is $1.6 billion dollars. Each line is receiving a $450 million FFGA. The federal government has already set aside $484.5 million for the two projects as part of the FFGAs. Of that amount, Metro has received $84.5 million.
The transit agency expects to continue receiving the federal funding over the next few years.
Expanding Houston Metro's light rail service to the north and the southeast is part of the city's sweeping plan to connect Houston's workforce with major downtown employment centers, including the Texas Medical Center and the University of Houston. With 18 new passenger stops along the way, the expanded light rail will also take riders to Reliant Park, Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park, a new major league soccer stadium now under construction, the Museum District, and the George R. Brown Convention Center/Discovery Green Park.
The new light rail lines, both scheduled to open for service in 2015, will provide alternatives to congested Interstate 45 and U.S. Route 59. They are expected to carry more than 58,000 riders on weekdays, including more than 13,000 new transit riders a day, by the year 2030.