Pending Federal Funding Commitments

In addition to the funding recommendations for existing Federal commitments discussed above, new commitments are pending for three additional projects. In anticipation of these commitments, FTA recommends that a total of $139.02 million be allocated to these projects in FY 2004. These projects have 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 2004. All of these projects have been authorized in TEA-21 for Final Design and construction.

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 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.

The Eastside LRT project was originally defined in MOS-3 as a 3.7-mile heavy rail subway extension under the Los Angeles River to First and Leona Streets 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. FTA approved the project into Final Design in October 2002.

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 $888.30 million, of which LACMTA is seeking $491.00 million (60 percent of total cost) in Section 5309 New Starts funding. Commitment authority totaling $647.00 million was set aside by an earlier FFGA for this and the Mid-City corridor. In FY 2001 and FY 2002, Congress appropriated a total of $8.42 million to the Eastside LRT project. Subsequently, $35.00 million was requested in FY 2003. FTA believes that the Eastside LRT will be sufficiently developed for an FFGA before the end of FY 2004, and therefore recommends that $55.00 million in Section 5309 New Starts funding be provided to the Eastside LRT in FY 2004.

New Orleans/Canal Streetcar Line

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is developing a 5.43-mile streetcar project in the downtown area, along the median of Canal Street. The Canal Streetcar Spine will extend from the Canal Ferry at the Mississippi River in the central business district, through the Mid-City neighborhood to Carrolton Avenue, where one branch will continue on Canal Street to the Cemeteries and another will follow Carrollton Avenue to City Park/Beauregard Circle. The corridor is located in an existing, built-up area that was originally developed in the streetcar era. Much of the corridor lies within the central business district and historic areas, where employment and housing densities, mix of uses, and pedestrian-oriented development are generally good. The central business district includes a high-density mix of office, retail, hotels and leisure attractions. The total capital cost of this project is estimated at $161.30 million, of which RTA is seeking $129.05 million (80 percent) in Section 5309 New Starts funding.

RTA completed a major investment study for this project in March 1995, fulfilling the requirement for an alternatives analysis. FTA approved entry into Preliminary Engineering in September 1995, and RTA initiated Final Design activities in September 1997. Final Design is essentially complete, contracts for vehicle assembly have been awarded, and construction contracts were awarded in early 2001. RTA expects to open this line in July 2004. In 2015, RTA estimates that 31,400 average weekday boardings, including 5,300 daily new riders, will occur on the Canal Streetcar Line.

Section 3030(a)(51) of TEA-21 authorizes the New Orleans Canal Streetcar Project for Final Design and construction. In October 2002, FTA notified Congress of its intent to enter into an FFGA for this project. Through FY 2002, Congress has appropriated a total of $70.03 million for this project; $37.10 million was requested in FY 2003. It is recommended that $36.02 million in Section 5309 New Starts funding be provided to the project in FY 2004.

San Diego/Oceanside-Escondido Rail Corridor

The North County Transit District (NCTD) in northern San Diego County, California is planning to convert an existing 22-mile freight railroad corridor between Oceanside and Escondido into a rail transit line. The line would run east from the City of Oceanside through the cities of Vista and San Marcos and unincorporated portions of San Diego County, to the City of Escondido, using diesel multiple unit (DMU) rail vehicles. The alignment also includes 1.7 miles of new right-of-way to serve the campus of California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). The line is located along the State Highway 78 corridor, the principal east-west corridor in the county. The complete 23.7-mile system will serve 15 stations, four of which will be located at existing transit centers. Passenger rail service will have exclusive use of the rail line during pre-defined hours of operation.

Ridership is estimated at 15,100 average weekday boardings in 2015, of which 8,600 would be daily new riders. Revenue operations are scheduled to begin in January 2004. This project will help to alleviate the heavy congestion of northern San Diego County along the Route 78 corridor. The project will serve large intermodal transit centers in both Oceanside and Escondido, and the corridor between the two contains a dispersed mix of commercial, industrial, and single- and multiple-family residential developments.

An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Oceanside-Escondido project was certified in 1990, and a separate EIR for the CSUSM alignment was certified in 1991. A Major Investment Study was not required under the procedures in effect at the time, based on concurrence from FTA, FHWA, the San Diego Association of Governments, Caltrans, the City of San Marcos, and NCTD. Advance planning was completed in December 1995, and the Environmental Assessment/Supplemental Environmental Impact Report was completed in early 1997. FTA approved NCTD’s request to enter Final Design in February 2000.

Section 3030(a)(77) of TEA-21 authorized this project for Final Design and construction. FTA anticipates the issuance of an FFGA for the Oceanside-Escondido Rail Corridor project during FY 2003. The total capital cost for this project is estimated at $332.30 million, of which NCTD is seeking $152.10 million in FTA Section 5309 New Starts funds. Through FY 2002, Congress appropriated $24.28 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds for this project, and an additional $42.00 million was requested in FY 2003. It is recommended that $48.00 million be provided for this project in FY 2004.