Proposed New Federal Funding Commitments

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In addition to the funding recommendations for existing Federal commitments discussed above, seven proposed projects are expected to be ready to negotiate FFGAs by the end of FY 2000. In anticipation of these new commitments, FTA recommends that a total of $216.11 million be allocated among these projects in FY 2000. Six of these projects have been rated as "recommended" or "highly recommended" under the criteria and processes specified by TEA-21. The commitment to the seventh project, the Salt Lake City/East-West LRT (Downtown Segment), is based on the need to provide adequate transportation for the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The funding recommendations described below are based on the anticipated funding needs of each project in FY 2000.

Dallas/North Central LRT Extension

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) plans to build an extension of its existing light rail system, which opened in phases from June 1996 to May 1997, north to the City of Plano. The 12.5-mile extension would connect with the existing system at the Park Lane Station, adding nine new stations. DART estimates that approximately 17,000 riders will use this extension by 2020. The total cost of this project is estimated at $517.20 million. This project has received a "high" financial rating and is rated "medium" for justification, resulting in an overall project rating of "recommended."

This extension is nearing the completion of the final design phase of project development. It is included in the regionally adopted Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program, which are in conformance with the State Implementation Plan for Air Quality. DART began contracting for construction and purchasing vehicles and necessary right-of-way in May 1998.

The North Central Extension is authorized for final design and construction by Section 3030(a)(20) of TEA-21. A total of $43.2 million in §5309 new starts funds has been appropriated for this project through FY 1999.

FTA anticipates that this project will be ready to negotiate an FFGA by the end of FY 2000. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at that time. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $70.00 million be provided to this project in FY 2000.

Ft. Lauderdale/Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Upgrade

The Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority (Tri-Rail) is proposing a number of system improvements to the 71.7-mile regional transportation system it operates between Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties in South Florida. This area has a population of over four million, nearly one-third of the total population of Florida. The planned improvements include construction of a second mainline track, rehabilitation of the signal system, station and parking improvements, acquisition of new rolling stock, improvements to the Hialeah maintenance yard facility and construction of a new, northern layover facility. The proposed double-tracking is intended to allow for 15 minute headways during peak commuter hours, as opposed to the current one-hour headways. Tri-Rail estimates that these improvements will serve an average of 68,348 daily riders by 2015. This project is rated medium-high for both finance and justification, giving it an overall rating of "highly recommended."

To date, 9.6 miles of the Double Track Corridor Improvement Project have been completed, including a station at Miami International Airport, which will be the cornerstone of the future Miami Intermodal Center. An additional 7.0 miles are scheduled to be completed in early 2000.

The Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Upgrade (described as the Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach-Miami Tri-County Commuter Rail) is authorized for final design and construction by Section 3030(a)(27) of TEA-21. Congress appropriated a total of $51.29 million in §5309 new starts funding for this project through FY 1998, and an additional $3.97 million was provided in FY 1999.

FTA anticipates that Tri-Rail will be ready to negotiate an FFGA for this project by the end of FY 2000. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at that time. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $20.00 million be provided to this project in FY 2000.

Memphis/Medical Center Extension

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), in cooperation with the City of Memphis, is proposing to build a 2.5-mile extension to its light rail system, from the current terminus at the Main Street Mall in the central business district to a new transit center near Cleveland and Claybrook Streets on the east (Medical Center). The proposed project would operate on-street in mixed traffic and would connect with the Main Street Trolley. Sixteen stops would be located along the route. The line will be designed to accommodate light rail vehicles but vintage rail cars would be used until a proposed regional LRT line is implemented and a fleet of modern LRT vehicles is acquired. This project is proposed to be the last segment of the downtown rail circulation system as well as the first segment of a regional light rail line. MATA estimates that this project will serve 4,200 riders daily by 2020.

This project is included in the City of Memphis' Capital Improvement Program, the Memphis MPO Transportation Improvement Program, and the State Transportation Improvement Program. A Major Investment Study/Environmental Assessment was completed in May 1997. FTA approved entry into preliminary engineering in March 1998.

The total capital cost of the project is estimated at $35.90 million. MATA estimates that the daily ridership of the proposed project would be 2,100 when it opens in 2002, and would increase to 4,200 by 2020. This project has received a medium-high financial rating and is rated medium for justification, resulting in an overall project rating of "recommended."

The Memphis Corridor was authorized for final design and construction by Section 3030(a)(43) of TEA-21. A total of $5.75 million in §5309 new starts funds has been appropriated for this project through FY 1998, and an additional $2.18 million was provided in FY 1999.

FTA anticipates that MATA will be ready to negotiate an FFGA for this project by the end of FY 2000. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at that time. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $15.11 million be provided to this project in FY 2000.

Newark/Newark Rail Link

The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) is planning an 8.8-mile, 16-station light rail system linking the cities of Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey. The project will be advanced in three stages. The first Minimum Operable Segment (MOS) is a one-mile, five-station extension of the existing 4.3-mile Newark City Subway light rail line, running from Broad Street Station in Newark to Newark Penn Station. The second stage is a planned one-mile segment from Newark Penn Station to Camp Street in downtown Newark, and the third is the planned remaining 7-mile segment to Elizabeth, which includes a station serving Newark International Airport.

The total capital cost of the MOS is estimated at $150.00 million, including associated stations, vehicles and a vehicle maintenance facility. The capital cost of the entire 8.8-mile project is estimated to be $694.00 million ($1995). NJ Transit projects that the entire line will carry 24,900 riders per day in 2015.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for all three stages of the full build alternative was completed in January 1997. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which addressed only the MOS, was completed in October 1998. The Federal Transit Administration signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the MOS in November 1998. Environmental work on the other segments of the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link awaits completion of an additional planning study.

Section 3030(a)(57) of TEA-21 authorized the New Jersey Urban Core Project, which consists of eight separate elements, including the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link, for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $17.91 million in Section 5309 funds for the New Jersey Urban Core Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link Project.

The Urban Core project, including the Newark Rail Link, was exempt from evaluation under the statutory project justification criteria by Section 3031(c) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). This exemption continues under TEA-21. However, NJ Transit has provided data to FTA for evaluation, which provides a basis for supporting a Federal commitment and a funding recommendation for FY 2000. The Newark Rail Link MOS has received a rating of medium-high for both justification and finance, earning an overall rating of "highly recommended."

NJ Transit is expected to be ready to negotiate an FFGA for the Newark Rail Link MOS by the end of FY 2000. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at that time. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $12.00 million be provided to this project in FY 2000.

Orlando/I-4 Central Florida LRT Project

The Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) in Orlando is proposing to construct a 16.3-mile, 20-station light rail system in the Interstate 4 (I-4) corridor between the Loch Haven/Princeton area in the north to the Central Florida Parkway in the south. LYNX plans to implement the system in two phases. The first Minimum Operable Segment (MOS) is a 14.6-mile line along I-4 and a CSX railroad line, between downtown Orlando and a station to be located near the interchange between I-4 and the Central Florida Parkway. This line will connect the CBD and the International Drive tourist area, both of which are major trip generators. The total capital costs for the MOS are estimated at $600.10 million, with estimated daily ridership totaling 103,700 passengers in 2020. In addition to the light rail system, LYNX proposes to expand local bus and feeder bus service in the corridor.

The Central Florida LRT project was included in a Major Investment Study for the I-4 corridor, which was completed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in the Fall of 1995. In December 1995, the Orlando and Volusia County MPOs adopted the I-4 MIS design concept and scope improvements as part of the Year 2020 Long Range Transportation Plans.

LYNX and FDOT have completed preliminary engineering for the Central Florida LRT MOS. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) has been signed and is awaiting a Record of Decision (ROD) and FTA approval to enter final design. The MOS has been rated medium-high for both project justification and local financial commitment, earning an overall rating of "highly recommended."

Section 3030(a)(60) of TEA-21 authorizes the Orlando-I-4 Central Light Rail System for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $51.06 million in new starts funds for this project.

FTA anticipates that LYNX will be ready to negotiate an FFGA for the MOS for this project by the end of FY 2000. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at that time. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $44.00 million be provided to this project in FY 2000.

Salt Lake City/Downtown Connector

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is planning a 10.9-mile, 15-station light rail system from the Salt Lake International Airport (SLIA) through downtown Salt Lake City to the University of Utah. This "West-East LRT" system will connect with the North-South LRT line in the downtown area. Initially, UTA plans to construct a segment of approximately one mile to connect the North-South line (now under construction) and several downtown destinations, including the planned Salt Lake City Gateway Intermodal Center and related development in the Gateway District of the CBD. In addition to serving local transportation needs, this Downtown Connector will provide transportation service needed for the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The total capital cost for the Downtown Connector is estimated at $74.80 million, with daily ridership estimated at 2,500 passengers.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) completed a Major Investment Study and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West-East LRT in July 1997. FTA approved entry into preliminary engineering in January 1998. The Final Environmental Impact Statement was published in December 1998; a Record of Decision for the entire West-East LRT project is expected in early 1999.

Section 3030(a)(72) of TEA-21 authorizes the Salt Lake City Light Rail (Airport to the University of Utah) for final design and construction. Congress appropriated $4.96 million in §5309 new starts funds for this project in FY 1999.

The entire 10.9-mile proposed system has been rated as "medium" for project justification and "low" for finance, resulting in an overall rating of "not recommended." No data for the Downtown Connector alone was available to FTA, however. While projects rated "not recommended" in a given year are generally not eligible for a Federal funding commitment, the fact that the Downtown Connector will provide needed transportation for the 2002 Winter Olympics (all Olympic ticketholders will be expected to travel to venues and events by transit) represents a compelling argument for Federal support. For this reason, FTA intends to negotiate an FFGA with UTA for construction of the Downtown Connector segment of the West-East LRT, in support of the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. In anticipation of this commitment, $20.00 million in §5309 new starts funding is recommended for FY 2000.

San Diego/Mission Valley East LRT Extension

The Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) is planning a 5.9-mile light rail extension from east of Interstate 15 to the City of La Mesa, where it would connect to the existing East LRT Line (now referred to as the Orange Line) near Baltimore Drive. The Mission Valley East line will serve four new and two existing stations, and would include elevated, at-grade, and tunnel portions. The project includes two park and ride lots and a new access road between Waring Road and the Grantville Station. The total project capital cost is $361 million. The system is expected to serve approximately 10,800 daily riders in the corridor by 2015.

The Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was completed in May 1997. The Locally Preferred Alternative was selected by the Metropolitan Transit Development Board in October 1997 with concurrence from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). FTA approved entry into preliminary engineering in March 1998, and preliminary engineering was completed in July 1998. This abbreviated schedule was made possible by the extensive public involvement and detailed analyses undertaken during the planning stages, streamlining much of the work that would traditionally be undertaken during preliminary engineering and preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS is complete, the Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in August 1998, and approval to enter Final Design was granted by FTA in October 1998.

This project was authorized for final design and construction by Section 3030(a)(76) of TEA-21. Through FY 1998, Congress has appropriated $1.00 million in §5309 new starts funds for this project, and an additional $1.49 million was provided in FY 1999. Based on the results of the project evaluation process required under §5309(e), this project has been rated high in terms of finance and medium-high for justification, resulting in an overall project rating of "highly recommended."

FTA anticipates that MTDB will be ready to negotiate an FFGA for the Mission Valley East project by the end of FY 2000. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at that time. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $35.00 million be provided for this project in FY 2000.