New Starts Allocations and Recommendations

As noted, the funding level proposed for FY 1997 for New Starts is $800.00 million. Once funding for FTA oversight activities is subtracted from this amount, as authorized by §5327 (Section 23), $794.06 million remains for projects. These funds will be allocated among those projects with existing Federal funding commitments and those for which funding commitments are expected within calendar year 1996. Complete descriptions of all projects in the New Starts pipeline can be found in Appendix A.

These funding allocations provide, within the constraints imposed by the budget caps, for the timely and efficient completion of those projects that have progressed the furthest in the development process. A failure to focus funds in the recommended manner risks creating additional expectations that may be difficult to meet in the current budget environment.

A. Projects With Existing Federal Funding Commitments

Seventeen projects have existing agreements that commit FTA to provide specified levels of Section 5309 (Section 3) funding. FFGA's have been issued to 16 of these projects, and one (the Tasman project in the San Francisco area) has been issued an LOI. Four projects are not included in the funding recommendations for FY 1997, either because the Federal commitment has been fulfilled (Dallas/South Oak Cliff, Pittsburgh/Airport Busway Phase 1, and St. Louis/Metrolink) or the project has been terminated at the local level. The status of these projects and the funding recommendations for FY 1997 are described below.

1. Atlanta/North Line Extension

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is constructing a 1.9­mile, 2­station extension from the Dunwoody station to North Springs. This project is part of the larger North Line Extension to the MARTA heavy rail rapid transit system. The segment from Buckhead to Dunwoody opened in June 1996. The initial 5.7­mile segment, from Lenox Station to Buckhead, was constructed without FTA assistance. When the North Springs extension is completed, it will serve the rapidly­growing area north of Atlanta, which includes Perimeter Center and north Fulton County, and will connect this area with the rest of the region by providing better transit service for both commuters and inner­city residents traveling to expanding job opportunities.

An FFGA was issued for this project in December 1994, providing a total of $305.01 million in New Starts funding. This includes $29.46 million in FY 1995 and prior year ISTEA funds (plus $10.00 million in FY 1991 and prior year funds), all of which has been obligated. The FY 1996 budget provided an additional $41.90 million. This leaves $223.65 million required to complete this project. It is recommended that $66.82 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 under the FFGA, with the remaining $156.83 million provided in FY 1998­2001. This project is expected to be operational by December 2000.

2. Baltimore LRT Extensions

The Mass Transit Administration (MTA) of Maryland is building three extensions to the existing 22­mile Central Light Rail Transit (LRT) system that connects the Baltimore central business district (CBD) to Timonium in the north and Glen Burnie to the south. The existing system was constructed entirely with State and local funds. The extensions consist of a 5­mile, 5­station extension from Timonium to the growing employment center in Hunt Valley, and two intermodal connections: a 2­mile, 2­station branch off the main line directly into the BWI Airport terminal, and a quarter­mile spur to Penn Station that will connect passengers with commuter rail and Amtrak service. The Federal share for the three extensions is 80 percent; if this investment is viewed in the context of the complete system, however, the overall Federal share is only 18 percent.

The FFGA for this project provides $84.90 million in total New Starts funding. This includes $30.35 million in FY 1995 and prior year ISTEA funds (plus $16.90 million in FY 1991 and prior year funds), all of which has been obligated. The FY 1996 budget provided an additional $15.13 million, to which was added $12.26 million in reallocated prior year discretionary funds, for a total funding level of $27.39 million in FY 1996. It is recommended that the remaining $10.26 million needed to complete this project be provided in FY 1997. This project is expected to be operational by May 1997.

3. Boston/South Boston Piers ­ Phase 1

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is developing an underground transitway to connect the existing transit system with the South Boston Piers area, located on the periphery of the central business district (CBD). This area is slated for future development, and is expected to more than double its existing commercial space by 2010. A 1.5­mile tunnel, to be constructed in two phases, will extend from the existing Boylston Station to the World Trade Center; five underground stations will provide connections to the MBTA's Red, Orange, and Green Lines. Electric trolleybuses or dual­mode vehicles will operate in the transitway tunnel and on surface routes in the eastern end of the Piers area.

Phase 1 of this project consists of a 1­mile bus tunnel with three stations located at South Station, Fan Pier, and the World Trade Center. Phase 2 will extend the tunnel to Boylston Station. Parts of Phase 1 are integrally related to construction of the Central Artery/Tunnel highway project now underway. Joint construction will help reduce transitway costs, environmental impacts and construction impacts. Section 3035(j) of ISTEA directs FTA to enter into an FFGA for this project.

An FFGA for this project was issued for Phase 1 in November 1994, in the amount of $330.73 million; this includes the $92.46 million provided in FY 1995 and prior years. The FY 1996 budget provided $19.82 million for this project to which was added $132,750 in reallocated prior year discretionary funds, for a total of $19.95 million. This leaves $218.32 million required to complete this project. It is recommended that funds in the amount of $53.72 million be provided in FY 1997, in accordance with the FFGA. The remaining $164.60 million would be provided over the course of FY 1998­2001. Phase 1 is expected to be in operation by 2000.

4. Chicago/Central Area Circulator

On December 15, 1994, FTA entered into an FFGA with the City of Chicago to fund construction of a multi­legged light rail transit system known as the Central Area Circulator. The system would operate within downtown Chicago (an area of approximately 6 square miles), the second largest central business district (CBD) in the nation, over a combination of reserved right­of­way on city streets and grade­separated or protected right­of­way adjacent to streets. The project would serve the more recently developed areas of the CBD, particularly to the northeast along Michigan Avenue, that are not well­served by the existing rapid transit system. Ridership was estimated at 103,400 trips per day.

The local financial commitment proposed for this project has been particularly strong, with the private sector bearing one­third of the capital costs through a special taxing district, which local businesses support. The State would contribute another third, and the Federal share would make up the remaining third. However, the Illinois General Assembly did not provide funding to continue this project in the 1996 State budget. Initially, Chicago officials indicated an intent to pursue a smaller project that might be built without State funds, but reconsidered when Congress did not appropriate Federal funds in the FY 1996 budget. On October 24, 1995, the Executive Board of the Central Area Circulator voted unanimously to recommend termination of this project to the Mayor of Chicago and the City Council; on October 26, 1995, FTA was notified that the project had been terminated.

Section 3035(e) of ISTEA directed FTA to enter into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the City of Chicago for $260.00 million to carry out the locally­preferred alternative. The December 15, 1994 FFGA provided a total of $258.37 million in New Starts funding (including funds already provided in past budgets). A total of $81.92 million in New Starts funding has been provided to this project in FY 1995 and prior years, including $16.91 million in pre­ISTEA earmarks. FTA recovered $34.31 million in unspent FY 1992 and 1993 funds that have exceeded their three­year availability to this project; the disposition of the remaining funds is under discussion. No funds were provided in the FY 1996 budget. Due to the decision by Chicago officials to terminate this project, no FY 1997 funding is recommended.

5. Dallas/South Oak Cliff

The South Oak Cliff light rail line is a 9.6­mile, 13­station segment of a 20­mile starter system being constructed by Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Construction has been underway since February 1992, and the FFGA was issued in September 1993. The remaining 10.4 miles are being constructed without Federal assistance. The FY 1996 budget provided $16.94 million (including $203,311 in reallocated prior year discretionary funds) to complete the FFGA. Therefore, no funds are recommended for FY 1997. The South Oak Cliff line opened in June 1996.

6. Denver/Southwest Corridor

The Regional Transit District (RTD) in Denver is developing an 8.7­mile light rail extension from I­25 and Broadway in Denver to Mineral Avenue in Littleton. This double­track line will operate over an exclusive, grade­separated right­of­way and connect with the Central Corridor light rail in downtown Denver, which opened in October 1994. RTD estimates that it will carry 22,000 passengers per day by 2015.

Denver exhibits a strong local commitment to transit. The existing Central Corridor line was built entirely without Federal assistance, and RTD has $26.00 million for the Southwest Corridor in its capital reserve. The total Federal share for the entire system, including the locally­funded starter line, is less than 50 percent. This project will reduce transit travel time between Littleton and downtown Denver by 43 percent, and save 2,700 hours of daily travel time. Denver is a "transitional" nonattainment area for ozone pollution and a serious nonattainment area for carbon monoxide.

RTD is seeking a commitment of $120.00 million in §5309 (Section 3) funds to complete this project. Preliminary Engineering and environmental reviews have been completed. No prior year funds have been earmarked for this project, and no funds were provided in FY 1996. FTA issued an FFGA for this project on May 9, 1996, which will provide the required funding over the course of FY 1997­2001. It is recommended that $8.00 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 under the FFGA, with the remaining $112.00 million provided in FY 1998­2001.

7. Houston/Regional Bus Plan

The Regional Bus Plan developed by Houston Metro consists of a package of improvements to its existing bus system. It consists of service expansions in most of the region, new and extended HOV (High­Occupancy Vehicle, or "carpool") facilities and ramps, several transit centers and park­and­ride lots, and supporting facilities. The local share for this project is 50 percent.

Section 3035(uu) of ISTEA directs FTA to negotiate and sign an FFGA for $500.00 million for this project, provided that a locally­preferred alternative for the Priority Corridor project had been selected by March 1, 1992. This condition has been met, and the FFGA was issued on December 30, 1994, to provide a total of $500.00 million for this project. This includes the $118.59 million provided in FY 1995 and prior years under ISTEA, as well as the $146.07 million in pre­ISTEA earmarks. All of these funds have been obligated. The FY 1996 budget provided an additional $22.36 million. The FFGA for this project provides for $40.59 million in FY 1997 New Starts funds, with the remaining $172.39 million needed to complete the project provided in FY 1998­2000. The FY 1997 budget recommendation reflects the funding schedule specified in the FFGA.

8. Los Angeles/MOS­3

The Metro Rail Red Line Project in Los Angeles is being implemented in three phases, or "Minimum Operable Segments" (MOS). The first of these segments, MOS­1, opened for revenue service in January 1993; MOS­2 is under construction, and its FFGA has been fulfilled. In May 1993, an FFGA was issued to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) for the third segment, MOS­3.

ISTEA defined MOS­3 to include three smaller segments: the North Hollywood segment, a 6.3­mile, three­station subway extension north from the MOS­2 terminus at Vine Street to North Hollywood; the Mid­City segment, a 2.3­mile, two­station subway extension west of the MOS­2 terminus at Western Avenue; and an undefined segment of the East Central project, to the east from the eastern terminus of MOS­2 at Union Station. Construction on the North Hollywood segment is now underway.

In December 1994, the FFGA for MOS­3 was amended to specify the segment of the East Central project to be included. This segment ("Phase 1") consists of a 3.7­mile, four­station extension from the eastern terminus of MOS­1 at Union Station, across the Los Angeles River to First and Lorena in East Los Angeles. This brings the total amount committed under the FFGA to $1,416.49 million, including the $356.73 million provided in FY 1995 and prior years under ISTEA. The entire MOS­3 project is part of a larger commitment to meeting air quality goals through the Regional Mobility Plan, which includes an extensive network of rail lines and an aggressive travel demand management program.

The FY 1996 budget provided $83.98 million for MOS­3. It is recommended that $158.86 million in New Starts funds be provided in FY 1997, with the remaining $816.92 million needed to complete the project provided in FY 1998­2002.

9. Maryland/MARC Extension to Frederick

The Mass Transit Administration of Maryland is extending the Maryland Commuter Rail (MARC) system from Point of Rocks to Frederick, Maryland. This extension will provide service from suburban Montgomery and Frederick counties to Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. The project involves track, signal, and station improvements along an existing freight line. In addition, MARC has undertaken a major program to purchase 50 bi­level coaches and six locomotives to ease crowding on existing lines and provide service on the Frederick extension. The environmental assessment of the Frederick extension has been completed, station sites have been selected, and final design is underway. MARC expects to initiate service on this extension in 1998.

ISTEA authorized funds in the amount of $160.00 million for this project. An FFGA was issued on June 19, 1995, to provide a total of $105.25 million to complete the project. This includes $13.90 million provided in FY 1995; an additional $33.25 million was appropriated in prior years, all of which has been obligated. The FY 1996 budget provided $9.88 million for this project, leaving $81.48 million needed to complete the FFGA. It is recommended that $50.00 million be provided in FY 1997, with the remaining $31.48 million provided in FY 1998.

10. New Jersey Urban Core/Secaucus Transfer

As part of its Urban Core program of interrelated projects, New Jersey Transit is constructing a major commuter rail transfer station in Secaucus, at the point where its Main and Bergen Lines intersect with the Northeast Corridor Line. The project consists of a new, three­level transfer station; track expansions; track, signal and bridge upgrades; and construction of a new platform and elevated walkway. It will allow commuters on the Main Line, Bergen County Line, Pascack Valley Line, and Port Jervis Line to transfer to Northeast Corridor commuter trains destined to Penn Station in midtown Manhattan or Penn Station in Newark. Located in the Meadowlands, this project is part of a potential public/private partnership which could include a major commercial center.

Section 3031 of ISTEA identifies the Secaucus Transfer Station as an element of the New Jersey Urban Core program of projects, and requires FTA to enter into a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for elements that can be fully funded in FY 1992 through FY 1997. In addition, ISTEA earmarked $634.40 million for the entire Urban Core program of projects. Section 3031(c) specifically exempts these projects from the project justification requirements of §5309(e)(2)­(7) (Section 3(i)) and from FTA's major capital investment policy. An FFGA was issued for the Secaucus Transfer project in December 1994 to provide a total of $444.26 million through FY 1998, including $233.18 million funds already provided in prior year budgets (all of which has been obligated). This project is expected to be operational by 2002.

The FY 1996 budget provided $79.29 million to the Secaucus Transfer project, leaving $131.79 million needed to complete the FFGA. It is recommended that $105.53 million be provided in FY 1997, with the remaining $26.26 million provided in FY 1998.

11. New York/Queens Connection

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is constructing a connection from the existing 53rd Street tunnel to the Queens Boulevard subway lines, through a new 63rd Street tunnel. The Queens Boulevard Connection consists of approximately 1/3­mile of new tunnel, with corresponding track, signal work, and real estate acquisition. This project will relieve severe overcrowding on the Queens Boulevard subway lines by diverting service from the existing bottleneck at the 53rd Street tunnel, allowing the operation of an additional 15 trains per hour between Manhattan and Queens. Approximately 1/3 of the 60,000 peak hour passengers currently traveling through the 53rd Street tunnel are expected to use the new 63rd Street tunnel.

An FFGA was issued for this project in February 1994 in the amount of $306.10 million. A total of $145.88 million in FY 1995 and prior year funds has been obligated for this project, and the FY 1996 budget provided an additional $125.20 million. This leaves $35.02 million required to fulfill the FFGA. It is recommended that the remaining $35.02 million be provided in FY 1997 to complete the Federal commitment to this project.

12. Pittsburgh/Airport Busway Phase 1

The Port Authority of Allegheny County (PATransit) is constructing a busway and HOV (High­Occupancy Vehicle, or "carpool") facility along a 20­mile corridor between downtown Pittsburgh and the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. Phase 1 of this project consists of a 7­mile dedicated busway extending from Carnegie (along existing railroad right­of­way), and a 1.1­mile HOV segment connecting to the downtown area through a rehabilitated Wabash Tunnel and across a new bridge spanning the Monongahela River. For the remaining 12 miles of the corridor, buses will operate on I­279. State funding for the local share of capital costs is in place, and a series of small taxes dedicated to transit for asset replacement and routine capital replacement needs has been approved. This project is expected to open for revenue service in 1998.

Section 1108(b) of the highway portion of ISTEA provides $9.8 million in contract authority for this project. Section 1069(e) authorizes an additional $39.50 million in general funds, of which Congress appropriated $15.82 million in FY 1995. An additional $76.50 million in flexible ISTEA funds has been committed to this project.

An FFGA was issued for this project on November 10, 1994, providing a total commitment of $121.00 million in §5309 (Section 3) New Starts funding. This includes $75.90 million provided in FY 1995 and prior years. The FY 1996 budget provided an additional $22.36 million, to which was added $22.74 million in reallocated prior year discretionary funds, for a total funding level of $45.10 million. This funding is sufficient to fulfill the Federal commitment to this project. Thus, no FY 1997 funding is required.

13. Portland/Westside­Hillsboro

The Tri­County Metropolitan Transportation District (Tri­Met) is constructing an extension of the existing Banfield LRT line ("MAX") from its downtown Portland terminus west to downtown Hillsboro. In September 1992, FTA issued an FFGA for a segment to S.W. 185th Avenue in Washington County. This FFGA was amended on December 13, 1994 to include the remaining segment to Hillsboro. The project consists of a 17.7­mile, double­track fixed guideway with 20 stations and nine park­and­ride lots. The route includes a 3­mile twin­tube tunnel under the West Hills along the Sunset Highway. The FFGA for this project was issued in September 1992. Also included are 36 low­floor light rail vehicles, the first to be placed in service in the United States.

This project is part of a program of interrelated projects planned for the region. Tri­Met has committed funds for this project from the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and §5307 (Section 9). In addition, $30 million of a 1992 local bond issue is also available. Local governments have entered into a regional compact which establishes the framework for their contributions, and legislation enacted in 1991 put the State funding in place. This project is expected to carry over 27,000 weekday passengers.

The Westside/Hillsboro FFGA commits a total of $590.07 million in §5309 (Section 3) New Starts funding to this project. Of this, $264.67 million has been provided in FY 1995 and prior years (including $1.00 million in pre­ISTEA earmarks). The FY 1996 budget provided an additional $128.58 million, leaving $196.82 million required to complete this project. It is recommended that $121.19 million be provided to this project in FY 1997, with the remaining $75.63 million required to complete the Federal commitment to this project provided in FY 1998. This project is expected to be operational in September 1998.

14. Salt Lake City/South LRT

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is implementing a 15­mile at­grade light rail transit (LRT) line from downtown Salt Lake City to the southern suburbs. The line would operate on city streets downtown and then follow a lightly­used railroad alignment owned by UTA. This project is part of the Interstate 15 corridor improvement initiative, which includes reconstruction of a parallel segment of I­15. Ridership is estimated at 23,000 daily passengers. Salt Lake City has been selected as the site for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Section 3035(f) of ISTEA directs FTA to enter into a multiyear grant agreement with UTA, which includes $131.00 million for construction of the initial segment of the locally­preferred alternative. On August 2, 1995, FTA issued an FFGA for this project that provides $215.00 million through FY 2000. This does not include $13.48 million provided in between FY 1992 and FY 1995 under ISTEA (all of which has been obligated), or the $8.92 million provided in FY 1991 and prior years. This project is now undergoing Final Design.

The FY 1996 budget provided $9.64 million for this project, leaving $205.36 million to be fulfilled under the FFGA. It is recommended that $35.00 million be provided in FY 1997, with the remaining $170.36 million provided over the course of FY 1998­2000. This project will be operational in 2000.

15. San Francisco Area/Tasman

The Santa Clara County Transit District (SCCTD) is constructing a 12.4­mile light­rail system from northeast San José to downtown Mountain View, connecting with both the Guadalupe LRT in northern Santa Clara County and the Caltrain commuter rail system. Construction will proceed in two phases. The Phase 1 West Extension will connect the northern terminus of the Guadalupe Light Rail System in Santa Clara with the CalTrain Commuter Rail station in downtown Mountain View, a distance of 7.6 miles. The Phase 2 East Extension will complete the project.

Section 5328(c)(1)(B) (Section 3(a)(8)(C)(ii) of the FT Act) defines the Tasman Corridor project as one element of a Program of Interrelated Projects to be considered together for the purposes of Federal requirements, along with the BART extensions to Colma and the San Francisco Airport. In addition, Section 3032(c) of ISTEA directs the Secretary to approve the construction of these projects, and Section 3032(e) authorizes $568.50 million in New Starts funds (this includes $68.50 million in FY 1990 and 1991 funds). An additional $12.75 million was authorized specifically for the Tasman project by ISTEA Section 3032(b)(2).

The Department issued an LOI for this project in April 1994, with the intent to issue an FFGA upon the resolution of several financial concerns associated with a challenge to the tax initiative intended to finance this project. Phase 1 is expected to require $90.00 million in §5309 (Section 3) funds in FY 1997 and future years. This does not include the $93.97 million provided in FY 1995 and prior years, $33.23 million of which remains unobligated. No funds were provided for this project in the FY 1996 budget. It is recommended that $10.00 million be provided in the FY 1997 budget under the existing LOI, with the remaining $80.00 million provided in FY 1998 through FY 2000.

16. San Juan/Tren Urbano

The Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) is planning a 10.4­mile, 14­station rail line connecting the major activity centers in the San Juan region. The system is planned as a double­track line operating over an at­grade and elevated right­of­way, with a short below­grade segment. The project includes a maintenance facility and provisions for two additional stations, if necessary. This project has been selected as one of FTA's turnkey demonstration projects. The design , build and operate contract for systems work and test track was awarded in July 1996. Three other contracts for civil work will be awarded later.

The number of automobiles per capita in Puerto Rico is comparable to the mainland; however, highway lane­miles are far below mainland levels. This results in extreme traffic congestion, particularly in San Juan. This project is expected to save over 10,000 daily hours of travel time, with 114,000 new daily transit riders using the system. At $1.00 per new rider, it is one of the most cost­effective projects currently in the Federal New Starts caseload. The financing strategy calls for a Federal share of less than one­third in §5309 (Section 3) funds, which would exempt this project from the project justification requirements of §5309(e)(2)­(7) (Section 3(i)).

A total of $4.96 million in FY 1995 and prior year funds have been allocated to the Tren Urbano project, all of which has been obligated. The FY 1996 budget provided $7.41 million. The Department issued an FFGA in March 1996 that commits these funds plus an additional $300.00 million in FY 1997 and future funds needed for its completion. It is recommended that $10.00 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 as specified in the FFGA, with the remaining $290.00 million provided in FY 1998­2001.

B. Additional Federal Funding Commitments Expected in 1996

In addition to the 16 projects with existing funding commitments, there are four projects for which FFGAs are expected to be issued during the 1996 calendar year. Funding recommendations and the status of each project are described below (future funds are estimated until negotiations are complete).

1. New Jersey Urban Core/Hudson­Bergen LRT

The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) is proposing a 20.5­mile, 33­station light rail transit (LRT) line along the Hudson River Waterfront in Hudson County. The line would extend from the Vince Lombardi park­and­ride lot in Bergen County to Bayonne, passing through Port Imperial in Weehauken, Hoboken, and Jersey City. The core of the system would serve the high­density commercial centers in Jersey City and Hoboken, and provide connections with NJ Transit commuter rail service, PATH trains to Newark and Manhattan, and the Port Imperial ferry from Weehauken to Manhattan.

This project is a major component of the Urban Core program of interrelated projects defined in ISTEA, designed to significantly enhance mobility in the Northeastern New Jersey area. ISTEA specifically exempted these projects from the FTA New Starts evaluation criteria.

NJ Transit is seeking a total of $623.99 million in §5309 (Section 3) funding to complete a 10­mile "First Construction Stage" from Hoboken Terminal to 34th Street in Bayonne and Westside Avenue in Jersey City. This initial stage will be implemented under a turnkey contract to design, build, operate, and maintain the system, which was advertised in November 1995. Preliminary engineering is underway, and a record of decision is expected for the environmental impact statement by mid­1996. The turnkey contract will be awarded by the end of July 1996.

Northern New Jersey is a severe nonattainment area for ozone and a moderate nonattainment area for carbon monoxide. The First Construction Stage would reduce emissions by 0.3 percent, carry 31,275 daily passengers, and save 22,000 hours of travel time per day. Construction is expected to begin in late 1997, with revenue service to commence in late 1999.

A total of $108.99 million in FY 1995 and prior year funds have been allocated to the Hudson­Bergen LRT, including $19.90 million in pre­ISTEA earmarks, all of which has been obligated. The Department expects to issue an FFGA in 1996 that will commit an additional $515.00 million to complete the First Construction Stage. No funding was provided in the FY 1996 budget. It is recommended that $10.00 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 in anticipation of the FFGA, with the remaining $505.00 million provided in FY 1998­2002.

2. Sacramento/LRT Extension

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT) is developing an 11.3­mile light rail transit (LRT) project in the South Sacramento Corridor. The system will follow existing Union Pacific right­of­way from downtown Sacramento to Calvine/Auberry. To maximize the use of available State and local capital funds, RT will implement this project is several phases. The first phase, a 6.3­mile "Interim Operable Segment" (IOS), would operate between downtown Sacramento and Meadowview Road. Population and employment in this corridor are expected to grow at rates faster than the regional average, resulting in severe congestion on the two major highways now in service. Phase 1 is expected to reduce automobile use by 3,779 daily trips and save 2,688 daily hours of travel time. Sacramento is a severe nonattainment area for ground­level ozone pollution. RT is requesting 50 percent of the construction costs of this project from §5309 (Section 3) funds.

A total of $1.98 million in FY 1995 and prior year funds have been allocated to the Sacramento LRT Extension, all of which has been obligated. The FY 1996 budget provided an additional $1.98 million. The Department expects to issue an FFGA in 1996 that will commit $100.00 million in FY 1997 and future funds to complete Phase 1. It is recommended that $8.00 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 in anticipation of the FFGA, with the remaining $92.00 million provided in FY 1998­2001. Construction is expected to begin in spring 1997, with revenue service to commence in July 1999.

3. San Francisco/Airport

Local officials in the San Francisco area have proposed a four station, 7.5­mile extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system from Colma to an intermodal station serving San Francisco International Airport. The route will serve the cities of South San Francisco and San Bruno, connect with the airport, and continue to Millbrae. The majority of the route will follow a combination of existing and abandoned railroad rights­of­way.

ISTEA defined this project as part of a Program of Interrelated Projects to be considered together for the purposes of Federal requirements, along with the BART extensions to Colma and the Tasman project in San José. The Federal commitment to the Colma project has been fulfilled, and an LOI has been issued for the Tasman project.

The BART Airport extension is part of the Federally­assisted portion of a much larger regional program of transit expansion, including significant BART extensions in the East Bay area (to Pittsburg and Pleasanton) and relocation of the Caltrain terminal in downtown San Francisco. The regional plan calls for 100 percent non­Federal funding of the East Bay extensions and no use of New Starts funds for the Caltrain terminal relocation. Thus, the Federal share in New Starts funding for the region's entire program of fixed guideway extensions is only 27 percent. This is a significant indication of local financial support for transit in a very transit­intensive region and is a major reason for the Department's support of this project. Projects requiring a Federal share of less than 33 percent in §5309 (Section 3) funds are exempt from the project justification requirements of §5309(e)(2)­(7) (Section 3(i)).

This project is expected to reduce automobile use by 485,000 daily vehicle miles of travel, and reduce carbon monoxide by 1,235 tons per year; nitrogen dioxides by 185 tons annually; volatile organic compounds by 82 tons per year; and particulate matter by 9 tons per year. Regional transit ridership is expected to increase by 23,200 daily passengers and save 6,900 hours of daily travel time. This project will improve transit access to downtown San Francisco from community around the peninsula, improve access to the airport from communities in the East Bay, and provide high­quality transit to the fourth­busiest airport in the U.S.

The Department expects to issue an FFGA in 1996 to provide $684.62 million in §5309 (Section 3) funds to complete this project. This does not include $55.50 million in FY 1995 and prior year earmarks, all of which has been obligated, nor the $9.88 million provided in the FY 1996 appropriation. It is recommended that $51.07 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 in anticipation of the FFGA, with the remaining $633.55 million provided in FY 1998 and future year funds. Construction is expected to begin in early 1997, with revenue service to begin in late 2001.

4. St. Louis/St. Clair Extension

The Bi­State Development Agency (Bi­State) is proposing a 27­mile light rail line between downtown East St. Louis and the vicinity of Scott Air Force Base, connecting with the Metrolink light rail line which opened in July 1993. An Initial Construction Segment will extend from the current Metrolink terminal in downtown East St. Louis to Belleville Area College, a distance of 17.5 miles. This segment consists of 13 stations and makes extensive use of abandoned railroad rights­of­way.

Bi­State estimates that the project will increase transit ridership by 3,885 trips per day, and will save 700­800 hours of travel time per day in 2010. It is expected to reduce automobile use by 374 trips per day. Preliminary engineering and the environmental review process are expected to be completed by the end of FY 1996; construction will commence in August 1998, and revenue service will begin in May 2001.

A total of $14.44 million in FY 1995 and prior year funds have been allocated to the St. Clair Extension, $5.95 million of which remains unobligated. The FY 1996 appropriation was allocated to both this project and the Metrolink project, with the St. Clair project receiving $1.98 million. The Department expects to issue an FFGA in 1996 that will commit an additional $236.00 million to complete the Initial Construction Segment. It is recommended that $20.00 million be provided to this project in FY 1997 in anticipation of the FFGA, with the remaining $216.00 million provided in FY 1998 and future funds.

REMAINING ISTEA COMMITMENT CAPACITY

Section 5309(g)(4) (Section 3(a)(4)(E)) limits the total amount of LOIs, FFGAs and contingent commitments which can be issued at any time to the remaining balance of the authorization, or one­half of the uncommitted cash balance in the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, whichever is greater. The maximum amount of New Starts funding authorized by ISTEA is about $4.968 billion for FY 1992 through 1997, of which $1.729 billion remains. At the end of 1997, when the ISTEA authorization expires, an additional $1.975 billion is calculated to be available for New Starts commitments from one­half of the uncommitted balance of the Mass Transit Account. In addition, Section 3032(g)(2) specifies that commitments to the San Francisco Bay Area rail extension program be made from the entire unobligated balance of the Mass Transit Account. This effectively provides an additional $775.00 million in New Starts funding authority. The sum of the commitments which are proposed in this report, including contingent commitments, totals $4.337 billion. As Table 3 shows, this is within the remaining commitment authority. FTA intends to manage this caseload so that as individual projects in this group meet the necessary requirements in the development process, negotiations for FFGAs would proceed while keeping the total Federal commitments within both the available funding authority and the program level that can be accommodated within the budget caps.