Pending Federal Funding Commitments

In addition to the funding recommendations for existing Federal commitments discussed above, new FFGAs are pending for three additional projects. In anticipation of these commitments, FTA recommends that a total of $105.00 million be allocated among these projects in FY 2001. These projects have all been rated as "recommended" or "highly recommended" under the criteria and processes specified by TEA-21. The funding recommendations described below are based on the anticipated funding needs of each project in FY 2001.

Ft. Lauderdale/Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Upgrade

The Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority (Tri-Rail) is proposing a number of system improvements to the 71.7-mile regional transportation system it operates between Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties in South Florida. This area has a population of over four million, nearly one-third of the total population of Florida. The planned improvements include construction of a second mainline track, rehabilitation of the signal system, station and parking improvements, acquisition of new rolling stock, improvements to the Hialeah Maintenance Yard facility and construction of a new, northern layover facility. The proposed double-tracking will improve service by a factor of three, permitting 20-minute intervals between trains during peak commuter hours instead of the current one-hour headways. Tri-Rail estimates that these improvements will serve 42,100 average daily boardings by 2015, including 10,200 new riders. This project is rated "medium" for both finance and justification, giving it an overall rating of "recommended."

The Double Track Corridor Improvement Program Segment 5 Project is approximately 44.31 miles long and includes upgrading the existing grade crossing system along the entire 71.7-mile South Florida Rail Corridor. It is expected to open for revenue service on March 21, 2005. The first four segments, upgrading the Hialeah Maintenance Yard and replacing the New River Bridge, while part of the overall Double Track Corridor Improvement Program, are not included in the scope of this project.

To date, 9.6 miles of the Double Track Corridor Improvement Project have been completed, including a station at Miami International Airport, which will be the cornerstone of the future Miami Intermodal Center. An additional 7.0 miles are scheduled to be completed in early 2000.

The Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Upgrade (described as the Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach-Miami Tri-County Commuter Rail) is authorized for final design and construction by Section 3030(a)(27) of TEA-21. Tri-Rail estimates the total cost of this project at $327.00 million, of which $110.50 million (34 percent) would come from the §5309 new starts program. A total of $55.26 million in §5309 new starts funding has been appropriated for the Tri-Rail Commuter Rail Upgrade through FY 1999; of which Tri-Rail has allocated $1.00 million to the Segment 5 project. An additional $9.81 million was provided in FY 2000, which will also be used for Segment 5.

An FFGA for the Double Track Corridor Improvement Program Segment 5 Project is pending. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at the time the FFGA is issued. In preparation for this commitment, it is recommended that $30.00 million be provided to this project in FY 2001.

Newark/Newark Rail Link (MOS-1)

The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) is planning an 8.8-mile, 16-station light rail system linking the cities of Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey. NJ Transit intends to implement the project in three stages, or "minimum operable segments" (MOS). The first segment, MOS-1, is a one-mile, five-station extension of the existing 4.3-mile Newark City Subway light rail line, running from Broad Street Station in Newark to Newark Penn Station. The second stage is a planned one-mile segment from Newark Penn Station to Camp Street in downtown Newark, and the third is the planned remaining 7-mile segment to Elizabeth, which includes a station serving Newark International Airport.

The total capital cost of MOS-1 is estimated at $207.70 million, including associated stations, vehicles and a vehicle maintenance facility. NJ Transit is expected to seek $141.95 million (68 percent) from FTA §5309 new starts funds. The Newark-Elizabeth MOS-1 segment is expected to serve 13,300 average weekday boardings by 2015, with 6,400 daily new riders expected. NJ Transit projects that the entire 8.8-mile line will carry 24,900 riders per day in 2015.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for all three stages of the full build alternative was completed in January 1997. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which addressed only the MOS, was completed in October 1998. The Federal Transit Administration signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the MOS in November 1998. Environmental work on the other segments of the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link awaits completion of ongoing planning activities.

Section 3030(a)(57) of TEA-21 authorized the New Jersey Urban Core Project, which consists of eight separate elements, including the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link, for final design and construction. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $17.91 million in §5309 funds for the New Jersey Urban Core Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link Project. An additional $11.77 million was provided in FY 2000.

The Urban Core project, including the Newark Rail Link, was exempt from evaluation under the statutory project justification criteria by Section 3031(c) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). This exemption continues under TEA-21. However, NJ Transit has provided data to FTA for evaluation, which provides a basis for supporting a Federal commitment and a funding recommendation for FY 2001. The Newark Rail Link MOS has received a rating of "medium-high" for both justification and finance, earning an overall rating of "highly recommended."

An FFGA is pending for the Newark Rail Link MOS-1 project. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at the time the FFGA is issued. In anticipation of this commitment, it is recommended that $10.00 million be provided to this project in FY 2001.

San Diego/Mission Valley East LRT Extension

The Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB) is planning a 5.9-mile, 4-station light rail extension of its existing Blue Line, from east of Interstate 15 to the City of La Mesa, where it would connect to the existing Orange Line near Baltimore Drive. The Mission Valley East line will serve four new and two existing stations, and would include elevated, at-grade, and tunnel portions. The project includes two park and ride lots and a new access road between Waring Road and the Grantville Station.

The total project capital cost is estimated at $431.00 million, of which MTDB is expected to request $330.00 million (77 percent) in §5309 new starts funds. The system is expected to serve approximately 10,800 average weekday boardings in the corridor by 2015, and 7,400 daily new riders. The San Diego region is a serious nonattainment area for ground-level ozone, and a moderate nonattainment area for carbon monoxide. The 5.9-mile corridor runs parallel to Interstate 8 in eastern San Diego and La Mesa. The corridor is characterized by a mix of low- to moderate-density industrial, residential, and commercial uses, but includes several major activity centers such as San Diego State University, the Grossmont regional shopping center, Kaiser Hospital, the Alvarado Medical Center, and the Grantville employment area. Over 24,000 jobs and nearly 10,000 residences are located within walking distance of the proposed stations, and existing zoning is generally supportive of transit. The MTDB is in good financial condition and has historically relied on its stable and reliable funding sources, placing minimal reliance on Federal funding assistance. This project is rated "medium-high" for both finance and justification, earning it an overall rating of "highly recommended."

The Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was completed in May 1997, fulfilling the requirement for alternatives analysis. The Locally Preferred Alternative was selected by the Metropolitan Transit Development Board in October 1997 with concurrence from the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). FTA approved entry into preliminary engineering in March 1998, and preliminary engineering was completed in July 1998. This abbreviated schedule was made possible by the extensive public involvement and detailed analyses undertaken during the planning stages, streamlining much of the work that would traditionally be undertaken during preliminary engineering and preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The FEIS is complete, the Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in August 1998, and approval to enter Final Design was granted by FTA in October 1998.

This project was authorized for final design and construction by Section 3030(a)(76) of TEA-21. Through FY 1999, Congress has appropriated $2.49 million in §5309 new starts funds for this project, and an additional $19.62 million was provided in FY 2000. Based on the results of the project evaluation process required under §5309(e), this project has been rated "medium-high" for both finance and project justification, resulting in an overall project rating of "highly recommended."

An FFGA for the Mission Valley East project is pending. The total amount of the Federal commitment will be determined at the time it is issued. In preparation for this expected commitment, it is recommended that $65.00 million be provided for this project in FY 2001.