L.A. awarded nearly $900M in light rail funds

Posted on February 20, 2014

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) signed a $670 million construction grant agreement to help build the Regional Connector light rail transit line in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

The two-mile rail segment will connect three existing transit lines, offering thousands of area residents more efficient and convenient access to jobs and education.

“L.A.’s Regional Connector will help make this city and region a better place for tens of thousands of Angelenos by ensuring that public transit not only works for everyone, but that it works better than ever,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will use FTA’s grant funds to build an underground connection between the existing Metro Gold line in Little Tokyo and the Exposition and Blue light rail lines. The grant also includes four new light rail vehicles to augment the existing fleet.

The project will reconfigure Metro's three existing light rail lines into two lines, one primarily running north to south and one east to west. The project reconfiguration will also eliminate the need for riders to make transfers from light rail to the Metro Red or Purple Line subway system, and then back onto light rail, to reach their destinations.

LACMTA estimates the Regional Connector will open in 2020 and initially handle roughly 60,000 trips or more each weekday.

In addition to the $670 million that FTA has committed to the project through its Capital Investment Grant (New Starts) Program, Metro will receive $64 million in other U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) funds and a loan of up to $160 million from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovative Action (TIFIA) loan program. The remainder of the roughly $1.4 billion project will be funded with state and local resources.

The FTA is also advancing two other major transit expansion projects in the Los Angeles metropolitan area: the Crenshaw/LAX light rail transit corridor project and Section I of the Westside Purple Line Extension. The $2 billion Crenshaw project, which broke ground in January, is funded in part with a $545.9 million TIFIA loan and approximately $130 million in other FTA and DOT funds.

U.S. DOT has approved a TIFIA loan of up to $856 million for the Westside project, which is also in line to receive funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program later this year.

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