Other Projects

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The FTA has identified five meritorious projects that may be ready to progress through Final Design and Construction by the end of FY 2003. These projects are located in areas that are highly congested or rapidly growing and have demonstrated a high level of local financial commitment and strong support from local citizens, businesses, and elected officials. Thus, for five of the projects, FTA recommends that New Starts funding be allocated to undertake Preliminary Engineering and Final Design activities. These projects include: Chicago Ravenswood Line Extension, Cleveland Euclid Corridor, Minneapolis Northstar Commuter Rail, Las Vegas Resort Corridor, and New York East Side Access. In FY 2003, $31 million funding is recommended for these projects. The status of these projects and the individual funding recommendations for FY 2003 are described below.

Chicago/Ravenswood Line Expansion

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is planning a series of capital improvements to enhance the operation of the Ravenswood heavy rail line, a line that currently serves 104,000 average weekday boardings through a high-density 9.3-mile corridor. The improvements include the expansion of existing station platforms on the line to accommodate eight-car trains, straightening of alignment curves to handle increased speeds, and other infrastructure enhancements. As the existing system is over 100 years old, improvements will allow for expansion of service to an already strong transit corridor with crowded conditions. Based on 1990 census data, CTA estimates that there are 11,551 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed 19 stations. This represents approximately 13 percent of the total number of households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed project. CTA also estimates that the proposed Ravenswood Line Expansion would serve approximately 80,350 jobs that are located within a one-half mile radius of station areas. In addition, CTA estimates that improvements to the Ravenswood Line would yield approximately 5.1 million hours of travel-time savings in the forecast year 2020.

The total capital costs of the Ravenswood Line Expansion project are estimated at $550 million of which CTA is expected to seek $245.5 million in Federal New Starts funding. This project receives a recommended rating based upon “high” rating for project justification and “medium” rating for financial support.

With the consent of the region's metropolitan planning organization, CTA has committed $134 million (28 percent) of FTA §5307 Urbanized Area Formula funds to this project. These funds have been programmed in the region's long-range transportation plan and Transportation Improvement Program.

Through FY 2001, a total of $4.92 million was provided for this project, and an additional $2.97 million was provided in FY 2002. To continue progress on this project, FTA recommends that a total of $4 million be provided to the Ravenswood Line Expansion project in FY 2003.

Cleveland/Euclid Corridor Transportation Project

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is currently completing the preliminary engineering and environmental review process for a 9.8-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) line that would operate from downtown Cleveland's Public Square east to University Circle and terminating at the Stokes/Windermere rapid transit station in East Cleveland. The project would include development of exclusive bus lanes, pedestrian zone enhancements to encourage transit usage, roadway reconstruction, traffic signal prioritization, ADA compliance, bus station development, landscaping and streetscaping, redistribution of traffic, and operation of higher-capacity vehicles. This project would serve major activity centers including the Cleveland central business district and the University Circle area. Ridership in forecast year 2025 is expected to be about 29,500 passengers per day, including 2,400 daily new riders. Based on 1990 census data, GCRTA estimates that there are approximately 12,406 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed project. This represents approximately 55 percent of the total households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed project. GCRTA estimates that the proposed line would serve approximately 175,000 jobs that are located within a one-half mile radius of proposed station areas. In addition, GCRTA estimates that the project would yield approximately one million hours of travel-time savings in the forecast year 2025.

The total capital costs of this project are estimated at $230.3 million, of which GCRTA is requesting $135.0 million, or 59 percent of total costs, from §5309 New Starts funding. In FY 2002, Congress appropriated $5.94 million for the Cleveland Euclid Corridor project. In FY 2003, FTA recommends $4 million of funding be provided to this project.

Las Vegas/Resort Corridor

The Las Vegas Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is in the process of conducting preliminary engineering on the proposed 3.1-mile Resort Corridor Automated Guideway Transit (elevated monorail) project. The monorail will serve the Las Vegas central business district and the northern part of the resort corridor along the Las Vegas "strip" from Freemont Avenue to Sahara Avenue. The Resort Corridor represents the region's largest primary employment center, as about 50 percent of the regional jobs (206,000) are located in this corridor. There are an estimated 69,300 jobs and 21,800 residents within a one-half mile from the proposed monorail boarding points. The RTC estimates the proposed system will carry approximately 58,500 weekday boardings, including 19,880 daily new riders in 2020. Based in the 1990 census data, there are an estimated 1,690 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed six stations. Revenue operations are scheduled to begin in January 2004.

This project represents an extension to a four-mile fully-automated monorail that is currently under construction by the Las Vegas Monorail Company (LVMC). The first phase of the monorail is also expected to be complete in January 2004.

The estimated capital cost for the 3.2-mile Resort Corridor monorail project is estimated to be $440 million, of which the RTC is seeking $130 million, or 30 percent, in New Starts funding. FTA recommends that $4 million of §5309 New Starts funding be allocated to the Las Vegas Resort Corridor in FY 2003 to continue development of this project.

Minneapolis/Northstar Corridor Commuter Rail

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently undertaking preliminary engineering on a proposal to design and construct an 82-mile commuter rail line within the Northstar Corridor that extends from downtown Minneapolis northwest to Rice, Minnesota. The Northstar Corridor project also includes the construction of a 1,750-foot light rail transit extension of the Hiawatha Corridor LRT project currently under construction. The project serves a growing part of the region in a corridor faced with significant traffic congestion. Ridership is expected to be 10,800 passengers per day, including 5,400 daily new riders. Based on 1990 census data, the Minnesota DOT estimates that there are approximately 1,092 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed eleven stations. Minnesota DOT estimates that the proposed commuter rail would yield approximately 0.4 million hours of travel-time savings in forecast year 2020. The proposed project would serve approximately 35,700 jobs located within a one-half mile radius of the proposed station areas, encompassing the Minneapolis, St. Cloud and Rice central business districts.

Early in 2002, the Minnesota State legislature is expected to make a decision on the State financial commitments for this project. A final design request for the 82-mile commuter rail line is expected to be submitted to FTA in spring 2002.

Total capital costs for this project are estimated to be $294 million with 44 percent ($147 million) requested from New Starts funding. Congress provided $9.90 million to this project in FY 2002. To continue progress on the Northstar Corridor Commuter Rail, FTA recommends $4 million for §5309 New Starts funding in FY 2003.

New York/East Side Access

The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is currently completing preliminary engineering on a proposed direct access for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) passengers to a new passenger concourse in Grand Central Terminal in east Midtown Manhattan. The proposed four-mile, two station, commuter rail extension under the East River, using an existing rail tunnel, is anticipated to improve Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tunnel capacity constraints and enable the overall growth of the nation’s largest commuter rail system. The project would provide access to the eastern part of midtown Manhattan for users of the LIRR who now must get to east midtown by subway or walking from Penn Station. By allowing some LIRR passengers to use Grand Central Terminal (GCT), the project would also free up capacity at Penn Station for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.

This East Side Access (ESA) project will serve the strongest transit market in the country. By 2020, is it projected that the LIRR East Side Access project will have 351,000 average weekday boardings including 15,400 daily new riders. Based on 1990 census data, MTA/LIRR estimates that there are approximately 4,443 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of proposed station areas. MTA/LIRR estimates that the ESA project would yield 7.4 million hours of travel-time savings to existing transit riders via the proposed stations. MTA estimates that ESA would serve approximately 698,200 jobs that are located within a one-half mile radius of the proposed station areas.

Construction is expected to begin on the tunnels in both Manhattan and Queens in 2002. The project is scheduled for completion by December 2011 at a projected cost of $4.35 billion. MTA is proposing a request for $2.17 billion (50 percent share) of §5309 New Starts funding.

In FY 2002, Congress appropriated $14.60 million in New Starts funding for the continued development of the East Side Access project. To continue progress on this project, FTA recommends $15 million in FY 2003 New Starts funding.