U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Recommends $119.4 Million For Oregon Transit Infrastructure Projects

President’s FY 2013 Budget Recommends $2.2 Billion Recommended for 29 Capital Transit Projects Across America that Will Create Jobs, Opportunities

2/14/2012
Contact: Angela Gates

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today recommended $119.4 million in funding to initiate construction for up to two significant rail and bus rapid transit projects in Oregon. The projects are included in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which will put thousands of Americans to work building the vital infrastructure our nation needs to improve access to jobs while reducing our dependence on oil and spurring new economic development.

“President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation infrastructure projects that are built to last,” said Secretary LaHood. “Throughout Oregon, there is work to be done on projects like these. The budget proposal released yesterday demonstrates our commitment to putting people back to work building the infrastructure we need to improve our transit systems, highways, railways, airports and ports well in to the future. At this make-or-break moment for the middle class, we can afford to do no less.”

The spending plan included in President Obama’s budget submitted to Congress yesterday recommends $2.2 billion in funding to initiate or advance construction of 29 significant rail and bus rapid transit projects in 15 states.

“The Obama Administration continues to make transformational investments in our nation’s transit infrastructure that open the door to more jobs and opportunities for millions of Americans,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Portland and Eugene are both developing robust transit systems that improve access to jobs while also reflecting long-range plans to grow and manage these cities in ways that are sustainable, promote green space, and spur good transit-oriented housing, retail, and commercial projects.”

The President’s funding recommendation for projects that would greatly improve transit accessibility in Oregon include:

  • $100 million for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail project, which will create a new transit bridge over the Willamette River to facilitate the 7.3-mile expansion of the TriMet MAX Light Rail. This expansion will create significantly easier commutes for East Portland and Milwaukie in addition to fostering transit- oriented development on the South Waterfront in conjunction with Portland’s expanding streetcar system.
  • $19.4 million for the 5.8-mile West Eugene Emerald Express Expansion BRT line, which will expand the existing Franklin/Gateway Emerald Express BRT system. The project is central to Eugene’s committed effort to manage growth in a sustainable way by connecting transit with the city’s mixed-use centers. Access to the University of Oregon and Sacred Heart Medical Center will also be improved.

One other project—the transit portion of the multi-modal Columbia River Crossing—may also be eligible for an additional $39 million in funding if it meets the New Starts evaluation criteria in Fiscal Year 2013. The funds would go toward an extension of TriMet’s Yellow Line light rail in north Portland, OR into downtown Vancouver, WA. The project would create the first inter-state transit crossing between the Pacific Northwest’s two busiest metropolitan areas, while helping to relieve congestion on the I-5 bridges, also slated for replacement.

All the recommendations are part of the FTA’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2013, available online here. Individual detailed project descriptions are available here.

The New Starts and Small Starts capital investment program is one of the largest discretionary grant programs in the U.S. Government. Proposed projects, such as rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferries, are evaluated and rated on a number of measures at several steps in the process as they seek FTA approval for a federal funding commitment to finance project construction.

Secretary LaHood recently proposed changes to this program to cut red tape in order to allow approved projects to begin construction sooner and help FTA focus more on local needs, such as economic development, community revitalization, and responding to historically underserved populations.

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