The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a $1.04 billion federal grant agreement with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to extend existing Blue Line Trolley service from downtown San Diego to the growing University City area.
The extension will improve access to employment hubs and numerous educational and medical facilities north of downtown, making it easier for people to travel throughout the city.
FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers made the announcement to commit the funds during a ceremony with representatives from SANDAG and the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), which will operate the service once it is built.
“The Obama Administration is committed to investing in transportation projects that improve mobility and provide ladders of opportunity for residents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “San Diego’s Trolley extension will do just that by helping thousands of transit riders to access employment, education, healthcare and other important services.”
The 10.92-mile light rail extension, referred to locally as the Mid-Coast Trolley, will serve major activity centers such as Old Town, Mission Bay Park, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, UC San Diego and the Westfield UTC shopping center. Officials estimate the project will serve 24,600 transit trips every weekday, with service anticipated to start in 2021.
With the signing of the federal grant agreement, FTA is committing a total of $1.04 billion through its Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program to the $2.17 billion Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project. In addition to the $100 million that will be awarded with the signing of the grant agreement, the remaining federal funds will be provided over the course of 10 years on an annual payment schedule, subject to Congressional approval during the annual appropriations process.
The CIG Program is the nation’s primary grant program for funding major transit capital investments. Projects accepted into the highly competitive program must go through a multi-year, multi-step process according to requirements in law in order to be eligible for and receive program funds.