FY 2010 Annual Report Excerpt: Small Starts Projects Recommended for Funding for the First Time in FY 2010

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Small Starts Funding Recommendations

[Please note: below is a partial list of Small Starts projects recommended for funding in FY 2010. It includes only those projects recommended for the first time by FTA. Projects recommended in FY 2010 that have been recommended previously are not discussed in detail below.  Please see the full document for a discussion of all the recommended Small Starts projects.]

The President’s Budget for FY 2010 requests $174.27 million for 16 projects that qualify under the Small Starts program, which is defined in SAFETEA-LU as transit capital investment projects with a total capital cost of less than $250 million and a Section 5309 Small Starts share of less than $75 million. In July 2007, FTA issued Updated Interim Guidance and Instructions for Small Starts, which documents procedures for evaluating and advancing projects into Small Starts project development for the FY 2010 evaluation cycle. The Interim Guidance further establishes the eligibility parameters for “Very Small Starts” projects, a subset of the lowest-cost Small Starts that may follow an even more simplified project development and evaluation process.

Demand for the Small Starts program continues to increase. FTA has approved six projects into Small Starts project development since last year; each of these projects achieved at least a Medium rating against the Small Starts criteria identified in SAFETEA-LU and implemented through the Small Starts Interim Guidance. 

Of the eight Small Starts projects and 13 Very Small Starts projects profiled in this report, 16 proposed projects demonstrated sufficient readiness to be considered for funding in the FY 2010 President’s Budget. Most of these projects are proposed to be funded under a multi-year Project Construction Grant Agreement. However, if a project requests less than $25 million in Small Starts funding or has received its full appropriations, FTA will award funds in a single-year capital grant rather than a PCGA. 

Appendix A provides a detailed description of each of the Small Starts and Very Small Starts projects, including their most recent evaluations and ratings  Brief summaries of the FY 2010 Small Starts and Very Small Starts funding recommendations are below.

California – Monterey Bay Rapid Transit

Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) is planning the Monterey Bay Rapid Transit, a 6.7-mile Bus Rapid Transit line from the Edgewater Transit Exchange in Salinas, though Monterey and the Transit Plaza, to the Canary Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Twenty-one new stations would be constructed and 15 buses from the existing fleet would operate on the alignment.  When completed, the project would provide a continuous bus rapid transit system connecting the heavily transit-dependent communities of Seaside to the employment and tourist activity centers in Monterey.  The project is a Very Small Start.

The capital cost for the project is $3.54 million, with a proposed Small Starts share of $2.83 million, or 80 percent.  Congress has not appropriated funding for the project through FY 2009.  FTA recommends $2.83 million of Small Starts funding for the project in FY 2010. 

California – San Bernadino E Street Corridor sbX Bus Rapid Transit

Omnitrans and the City of San Bernardino are proposing to construct a 16.5-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) project along E Street in San Bernardino. The project would provide a dedicated bus travel lane through the majority of the corridor from north of California State University at San Bernardino, generally following Kendall Drive south to E Street, through downtown San Bernardino, the City of Loma Linda, and through the Loma Linda University Medical Center to the VA Hospital, where the project would terminate. The project includes 17 new stations, improvements to E Street to accommodate exclusive BRT operations, and 14 new low-floor buses.  Service would operate at 10-minute headways during weekday peak periods and 15 minute off-peak headways. The project is a Small Start.

The capital cost for the project is $163.39 million, with a proposed Small Starts share of $75.00 million, or 46 percent. Congress has not appropriated funding for the project through FY 2009. FTA recommends $32.37 million of Small Starts funding for the project in FY 2010.

California – San Joaquin Metro Express-Airport Way Corridor Bus Rapid Transit

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) is planning the Metro Express- Airport Way Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), a 7.2 -mile BRT line from Downtown Stockton to the Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Fourteen new stations would be constructed and five buses would be purchased to augment the existing fleet. The Airport-Way BRT will connect to the existing North South BRT line and provide rapid bus service through the center of the Stockton’s primary population and employment centers. The project is a Very Small Start. 

The capital cost for the project is $9.74 million, with a proposed Small Starts share of $2.81 million, or 29 percent. Congress has not appropriated funding for the project through FY 2009.  FTA recommends $2.81 million of Small Starts funding for the project in FY 2010. 

Colorado – Roaring Fork Valley Bus Rapid Transit Project

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) is planning a 38.8-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. When completed, the project is expected to provide faster transit service connecting the communities of Aspen, Snowmass, Woody Creek, Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. Nine new stations and 300 park and ride spaces would be constructed as part of the project, and fifteen low-floor buses would be purchased to augment the existing fleet. The project will use existing high occupancy vehicle lanes and traffic signal priority to provide faster, more reliable transit service, and will include branded stations and vehicles. The project is a Very Small Start.

The capital cost for the project is $46.40 million, with a proposed Small Starts share of $25.99 million, or 56 percent. Congress has not appropriated funding for the project through FY 2009. FTA recommends $810,000 of Small Starts funding for the project in FY 2010.

Texas – Austin MetroRapid Bus Rapid Transit

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposes to construct a 37.5-mile street-running bus rapid transit (BRT) system along two interconnected corridors: the 21-mile North Lamar/South Congress Corridor and the 16.5-mile Burnet/South Lamar Corridor. The North Lamar/South Congress Corridor extends from the North Interstate Highway 35 park-n-ride lot at Tech Ridge to the planned South IH-35 Transit Center. The Burnet-South Lamar Corridor extends from St. David’s North Austin Medical Center to 38th Street at West Avenue near the Medical Center. The BRT lines would share a 3-mile segment in central Austin between 38th Street, north of the University of Texas-Austin, and Cesar Chavez Street at the southern end of downtown Austin. The project includes 18 paired stations in the North Lamar/South Congress Corridor and 17 paired stations in the Burnet/South Lamar Corridor, with a real-time passenger information system, traffic signal priority, and the purchase of 40 low-floor, multi-door, branded vehicles. The service would operate with ten-minute headways during peak periods and 15 minute headways during off-peak periods.  The project is a Very Small Start.

The capital cost for the project is $47.03 million, with a proposed Small Starts share of $37.62 million, or 80 percent.  Congress has not appropriated funding for the project through FY 2009. FTA recommends $17.39 million of Small Starts funding for the project in FY 2010.