Transmittal of FTA's Annual Report on New StartsNumber C-02-02 3/19/2002
400 Seventh St. S.W.
I am pleased to provide you the Federal Transit Administration’s 2002 Annual Report on New Starts. This report makes recommendations for the allocation of funds for new fixed guideway systems and extensions to existing fixed guideway systems, also known as “New Starts,” for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003. It is a collateral document to the President’s annual budget submission to Congress.
With the strong foundation provided by Congress and valuable technical assistance and oversight by FTA, New Starts grantees engage in one of the most rigorous financial planning, project development, and engineering processes in government. The FY 2003 budget recommendation includes funding for 27 existing and pending Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGAs), which are multi-year contractual agreements between FTA and the grantees. Located in every geographic area of the country and in cities of all sizes, these projects include commuter rail, light rail, heavy rail, and bus rapid transit. When complete, they will carry over 190 million riders annually, save over 61 million hours in travel time, and significantly improve mobility in America.
In addition to the 27 existing and pending FFGAs, seven additional projects are recommended for funding in FY 2003. Two of these projects, the Los Angeles East Side Light Rail Transit (LRT) System and the Salt Lake City Medical Extension are recommended for multiyear funding commitments (FFGAs):
- Los Angeles East Side Light Rail Transit System:
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) is developing a 5.9-mile, eight station light rail transit (LRT) system to serve a dense, urbanized, heavily transit-dependent area between downtown Los Angeles and East Los Angeles. The proposed light rail system has been determined by the community as the best solution to increase transit capacity in the corridor, and enjoys a high level of support from local elected officials, businesses, and citizens. The light rail is projected to carry 15,000 average weekday boardings in 2020, including 7,600 new daily riders. Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 5,328 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the transit station areas, representing 17 percent of all households located within one-half mile of the transit station areas. In addition, an estimated 84,000 jobs are located within one-half mile of the transit station areas. The project is expected to contribute to improved air quality in the Los Angeles region, which is classified as an “extreme” area for ozone, a “serious” area for carbon monoxide and particulate matter, and as an “attainment” area for nitrogen oxides.
- Salt Lake City Medical Center Extension:
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is proposing the Medical Center Extension project, a 1.5-mile light rail transit (LRT) system extending from the University Line station at Rice-Eccles Stadium to the University of Utah Health Science Complex (Medical Center). The proposed Medical Center LRT Line includes three stations: Huntsman Center, Wasatch Drive, and Medical Center. The Medical Center LRT Line will connect to the University Line LRT and the existing North/South LRT corridor. Station areas encompass a number of significant activity generators, including student housing, campus buildings, and a complex of medical facilities. Population in the corridor is about 5,000 and total Medical Center and University employment is about 18,000. Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 140 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed three stations. Ridership is projected to be 4,100 average weekday boardings, 3,400 of whom will be new riders. Revenue operations are scheduled to begin in 2004.
Five other meritorious projects have been recommended for funding to continue project development. Each of these projects has met the planning requirements of the New Starts program and the local communities have demonstrated support for their respective projects by committing a substantial amount of local and/or state funding. These projects are:
- Chicago Ravenswood Line Expansion:
Located in the seventh fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, the Chicago Ravenswood Line Expansion will reconstruct and expand the existing Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Brown Line that extends from the north side of Chicago to the “elevated loop” in downtown Chicago. One of the busiest transit lines in the country, it serves more than 90,000 households and 80,000 jobs within one-half mile of the stations. The improved segment is expected to serve 6.7 million riders annually.
- Cleveland Euclid Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT):
This innovative bus rapid transit project will connect with the existing rail transit system in Cleveland to improve travel to, from, and between the two largest employment centers in the area – the downtown central business district and University Circle. It will promote economic development in the City of Cleveland and the central business district, and is projected to carry more than 30,000 daily riders in the Cleveland/Akron metropolitan area of almost three million people.
- Las Vegas Resort Corridor Fixed Guideway Minimum Operable Segment (MOS):
As a monorail system located in the fastest growing city in the country, this project will serve the Las Vegas “Strip”, which employs an estimated 235,000 people and draws 33 million tourists annually. It is projected to carry more than 58,000 riders daily. The project will leverage federal dollars to improve mobility in the area by connecting to a privately funded monorail system that is currently under construction. Serving the southern most portion of the Las Vegas Strip, it will significantly improve access to downtown Las Vegas.
- Minneapolis Northstar Commuter Rail:
Connecting downtown Minneapolis-St. Paul with the City of Rice, the Minneapolis Northstar Commuter Rail will provide access to approximately 250,000 jobs located within the corridor. Located in the fastest growing area of the state, with growth projected to continue at double digit rates for the next two decades, this new commuter rail line will carry 500,000 riders annually.
- New York East Side Access:
This project will provide increased tunnel capacity for the commuter rail lines of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) under the East River, increase flexibility at New York’s Penn Station, and add a new passenger terminal in Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. The New York East Side Access project would benefit approximately 167,000 daily LIRR riders as well as the 161,000 people who currently use Penn Station each day. With an estimated 575,000 jobs and 34,600 households located within one-half mile of the proposed stations, this project is expected to ease congestion and significantly shorten travel time for LIRR customers who use the nation's largest commuter rail system.
In addition to the projects proposed for funding in FY 2003, the enclosed report includes information on all of the projects currently in the New Starts program pipeline, at various stages of planning and development. Fifty projects are in the preliminary engineering or final design stage of project development. These projects are located in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and in cities of all sizes, with populations from over 5 million to less than 500,000. Spanning every means of public transportation service, from ferry boats to commuter rail to light rail to bus rapid transit, these projects can be expected to significantly enhance our nation’s public transportation network in the years to come.
Jennifer L. Dorn