It's a sure thing: LA Metro is receiving a $1.25 billion New Starts grant from the federal government as well as an $856 million federally backed TIFIA low-interest loan for the Purple Line subway extension under Wilshire Boulevard. The agreements were signed Wednesday morning (see photo of LA officials below) and will allow construction to begin later this year. The $2.8 billion extension of the subway, which currently ends at Wilshire and Western, will include new stations at La Brea, Fairfax and La Cienega, and is to be completed by 2023.
Utility relocations are already underway along the subway route on Wilshire and a 75-foot-deep exploratory shaft has been dug across from LACMA. The second phase of the project will extend the subway to Century City in 2026 and Westwood in 2036, but Metro continues to search for ways to accelerate construction of this and other transit projects.
The grants and loans signify a federal vote of confidence in LA Metro, which has gotten more New Starts funding from the federal government recently than at any time during the past two decades, and is in the midst of what is being called the largest public works project since the Great Depression. Earlier this year Metro secured a $670 million New Starts grant and $160 million TIFIA loan to help fund construction of the Regional Connector, which will connect the Blue, Gold and Expo lines in downtown LA to provide "one-seat" rides across the county.
In another piece of good news, on Monday a $265 billion federal transportation reauthorization bill sailed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, and now goes to the full Senate. The measure would maintain the U.S. DOT's current level of transportation funding, approximately $50 billion per year.
The bill reauthorizes the federal gas tax, which collects about $34 billion a year to deposit into the Highway Trust Fund. This would address mounting concerns that payments to states will have to be stopped in late July when the Highway Trust Fund reaches a fiscal cliff. However, $34 billion/year over 6 years equals only $204 billion, which means the Senate Finance Committee will have to find other funding sources to make up the $61 billion it would take to maintain current funding levels.
President Obama had earlier proposed a 4-year, $302 billion infrastructure spending bill. But Boxer said maintaining current funding levels was the best deal she could reach with Republicans on the committee.
Read more on The Source.
Excitement is building around the prospect of funding an even bigger build-out of LA County's transit system! Check out the video below (also in the upper lefthand corner of our website), shot at Move LA's 6th Annual Transportation Conversation at the end of March. We hope it helps spark an ongoing discussion about the proposed "Measure R2" 1/2-cent sales tax measure and what it could fund. "Measure R2" (as we like to call it) is likely to appear on the 2016 ballot and will require the yes vote of 2/3 of LA County voters — which means LA Metro and its Board of Directors must develop a program that serves all of LA County. Help us spread the word about the possibility of a new sales tax measure! Talk to friends and co-workers, neighborhood councils, faith-based organizations and/or community groups. Download maps and other materials about our proposal in the upper left corner of our website.
Thank you Sunflower Media and all who agreed to be interviewed. We couldn't get everyone into this 3-minute video, but this discussion is just beginning. So click on the video and tell us what you think about Measure R2!
Read more on the NYT website.
Read more on the latest update from Metro government relations staff.
Read more on Curbed LA.
Read more @sfgate.com
Read more in the LA TIimes.
By Kim-Mai Cutler on Techcrunch.com.
Read more on Curbed LA and see their rent "heat map."