Proposed Funding Commitments

In addition to the funding recommendations for the existing and pending Federal commitments discussed above, two proposed projects are expected to be ready for commitments before the end of FY 2003 (i.e., September 30, 2003). In anticipation of these new commitments, FTA recommends that a total of $55 million be allocated to these projects in FY 2003. These projects have been rated as “recommended” or “highly recommended” under the criteria and processes specified by TEA-21. Both of these projects have been authorized by TEA-21. The funding recommendations described below are based on the anticipated funding needs of each project in FY 2003.

Los Angeles/Eastside 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 relatively urbanized, heavily transit-dependent area between downtown Los Angeles and East Los Angeles. The proposed light rail system has been determined the best solution to increase transit capacity in the corridor. The light rail is estimated to carry 15,000 average weekday boardings in 2020, including 7,600 daily new 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. There are an estimated 84,000 employees within one-half mile of the transit station areas. The Los Angeles region 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. This project, a replacement for the MOS-3 Subway project originally proposed, has a high level of support from local elected officials, businesses, and citizens.

As originally defined, MOS-3 included a heavy-rail Eastside project, a 3.7-mile, four-station subway extension under the Los Angeles River to First and Leona in East Los Angeles. On January 14, 1998, however, the LACMTA Board of Directors voted to suspend and demobilize construction on the Eastside rail project as well as the Mid-City proposed rail construction. Following this decision, LACMTA conducted extensive alternative analyses and in October 2000, FTA approved entry into preliminary engineering for the Eastside light rail line.

Section 3030(a)(38) of TEA-21 authorizes the LACMTA Eastside LRT for final design and construction. In early 2002, LACMTA completed the National Environmental Policy Act processes and entered into final design. The total capital costs of the Eastside LRT are expected to be $818 million, of which LACMTA is seeking $491 million (60 percent of total cost) in §5309 New Starts funding. Commitment authority totaling $647 million was set aside by an earlier FFGA for this and the West Los Angeles corridor. In FY 2001, Congress appropriated $1.98 million to the Eastside LRT project. Subsequently, Congress appropriated $7.43 million in FY 2002. FTA believes that the Eastside LRT will be sufficiently developed for an FFGA before the end of FY 2003, and therefore recommends that $­­­35 million in §5309 New Starts funding be provided to the Eastside LRT in FY 2003.

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. Revenue Operations are scheduled to begin in 2004. 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 estimated at 4,100 average weekday boardings, 3,400 of whom are new riders.

FTA and UTA signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) in August 2000 for the Central Business District (CBD) to University LRT project. The University LRT project opened for service on December 15, 2001. In August 2001, FTA approved the initiation of Final Design for the Medical Center Extension project.

The total capital costs for this project are projected to be $89.4 million. UTA is seeking $53.6 million from FTA in §5309 New Starts funding, which is 60 percent of the total cost. FTA approved entrance into Final Design in August 2001. In FY 2002, Congress appropriated $2.97 million for the Salt Lake City Medical Center extension. In preparation for the expected FFGA commitment, FTA recommends that a total of $20 million be provided to the Medical Center Extension project in FY 2003.