Proposed Funding Commitments

In addition to the funding recommendations for the existing and pending Federal commitments discussed above, four proposed projects are expected to be ready for commitments before the end of FY 2004 (i.e., September 30, 2004). In anticipation of these new commitments, FTA recommends that a total of $235.00 million be allocated to these projects in FY 2004. These projects have been or are anticipated to be rated as “Recommended” or “Highly Recommended” under the criteria and processes specified by TEA-21. All 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 2004.

Chicago/Ravenswood Line Expansion

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is planning a series of capital improvements to enhance the operation of the Ravenswood heavy rail line, a line that currently experiences capacity problems through a high-density 9.3-mile corridor. The improvements include the expansion of existing station platforms on the line to accommodate eight-car trains, straightening of alignment curves at stations, and other infrastructure enhancements. As the existing system is over 100 years old, improvements will allow for expansion of capacity to an already strong transit corridor with crowded conditions. Based on 1990 census data, CTA estimates that there are 11,551 low-income households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed 18 stations. This represents approximately 13 percent of the total number of households within a one-half mile radius of the proposed project. CTA also estimates that the proposed Ravenswood Line Expansion would serve approximately 80,350 jobs that are located within a one-half mile radius of station areas.

The total capital costs of the Ravenswood Line Expansion project are estimated at $529.9 million of which CTA is expected to seek $245.50 million in Federal New Starts funding. With the consent of the region’s metropolitan planning organization, CTA has committed $134.00 million (28 percent) of FTA Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula funds to this project. These funds have been programmed in the region’s long-range transportation plan and Transportation Improvement Program.

At present, this project has been identified as “Not Rated” due to concerns about some of the information underlying the calculation of the new transportation system user benefit measure. However, based on work conducted to date, FTA believes that the remaining issues will be resolved in the very near future and the project rating is likely to support an FFGA.

Through FY 2002, a total of $7.89 million was provided for this project. To continue progress on this project, FTA requested that a total of $4.00 million be provided to the Ravenswood Line Expansion project in FY 2003. In FY 2004, FTA is recommending $45.00 million in New Starts funding for this project.

Las Vegas/Resort Corridor

The Las Vegas Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is proposing a 2.28-mile Resort Corridor Automated Guideway Transit (elevated monorail) project. The project is currently in Preliminary Engineering and is expected to move into Final Design in early 2003. The monorail will serve the Las Vegas central business district and the northern part of the resort corridor along the Las Vegas “strip” from Fremont Street to Sahara Avenue. The Resort Corridor represents the region’s largest primary employment center, as about 50 percent of the regional jobs (235,000) are located in this corridor. There are an estimated 40,730 jobs and 5,530 residents within a one-half mile from the proposed monorail boarding points. The RTC estimates the proposed system will carry approximately 38,800 weekday boardings, including 22,590 daily new riders in 2020. Based in the 1990 census data, there are an estimated

This project represents an extension to a four-mile fully automated monorail that is currently under construction by the Las Vegas Monorail Company (LVMC) without the use of New Starts funds. The first phase of the monorail is also expected to be complete in January 2004.

The estimated capital cost for the 2.3-mile Resort Corridor monorail project is estimated to be $324.8 million, of which the RTC is seeking $159.70 million, or 50 percent, in New Starts funding. Through FY 2002, Congress appropriated $13.85 million in New Starts funding for this project. FTA requested that $4.00 million of Section 5309 New Starts funding be allocated to the Las Vegas Resort Corridor in FY 2003 to continue development of this project. FTA expects this project to be sufficiently developed for an FFGA before the end of FY 2004, and is requesting $40.00 million in FY 2004 New Starts funding for the project.

New York/East Side Access

The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is designing a direct access for Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) passengers to a new passenger concourse in Grand Central Terminal in east Midtown Manhattan. The four-mile, two-station commuter rail extension under the East River, using an existing rail tunnel, will increase the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tunnel capacity and enable the overall growth of the nation’s largest commuter rail system. The project provides access to the eastern part of midtown Manhattan for users of the LIRR who now must get to east midtown by subway or walking from Penn Station. By allowing some LIRR passengers to use Grand Central Terminal (GCT), the project will free up capacity at Penn Station for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak commuter trains.

This East Side Access (ESA) project will serve the strongest transit market in the country. By 2020, is it projected that the LIRR East Side Access project will have 167,500 average weekday boardings including 15,400 daily new riders. Based on 1990 census data, MTA/LIRR estimates that there are approximately 4,443 low-income households and 698,000 jobs within a one-half mile radius of two station areas.

Construction began on the tunnels in both Manhattan and Queens in 2002. The project is scheduled for completion by December 2011 at a projected cost of $5.30 billion. Although MTA is requesting a total of $2.60 billion of Section 5309 New Starts funding, the amount of Federal share of the LIRR East Side Access project is still being negotiated. In addition, given the size of this project and the difficulty with dividing it into more than one operable segment, alternative funding mechanisms in lieu of a traditional FFGA are being investigated. FTA and MTA are working to identify an appropriate first phase of a funding commitment, anticipated to be ready by early FY 2003. The final amount of the funding commitment for this authorization period is still under consideration. Through FY 2002, Congress appropriated $68.23 million in New Starts funding for the continued development of the East Side Access project. To continue progress on this project, FTA requested $15.00 million in FY 2003 New Starts funding. FTA is recommending $75.00 million in FY 2004 New Starts funding for this project.

Seattle/Central Link Initial Segment

Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) is proposing a 24-mile Central Link light rail transit (LRT) line running north to south from Northgate through downtown Seattle and Southeast Seattle to the cities of Tukwila and SeaTac, Washington. The system would operate on existing and new rights-of-way, including the existing 1.3-mile Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Sound Transit plans to construct the entire system in phases. In the fall of 2001, the Sound Transit Board decided to implement the initial segment, known as the Central Link Initial Segment, a 14-mile, 11-station LRT line extending from Convention Place through downtown Seattle and terminating at South 154th Station. The Central Link Initial Segment light rail line includes 1.3 miles of exclusive transit right-of-way in the existing transit tunnel, and 1.4 miles of right-of-way reconfigured from an existing busway south of Downtown. The system is forecast to have 42,500 average weekday boardings in 2020, including 29,000 daily new riders. Total capital cost is estimated at $2,491.6 million, of which Sound Transit is expected to seek $500.00 million in Section 5309 New Starts funding.

In July 1997, FTA approved the Link LRT project to enter Preliminary Engineering. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was published in December 1998. The Final EIS was completed in November 1999. FTA issued a Record of Decision in January 2000. The Sound Transit Board formally adopted a 7.2-mile initial Minimum Operable Segment, known as the MOS-1, for Federal participation in November 1999. FTA approved the project’s advancement into Final Design in February 2000. Based on increased costs for tunneling, right-of-way, mitigation, and other factors, Sound Transit increased the total project cost for the former MOS-1 and rescheduled the revenue operations date. FTA entered into a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the former MOS-1 in January 2001.

After Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General raised significant questions about project costs, the Sound Transit Board directed staff to re-examine the entire MOS-1 project to determine if a portion of the 20-mile Locally Preferred Alternative could be identified as a new initial segment, or if MOS-1 could be redefined to reduce risks and better meet budget limitations. During the re-examination, the Sound Transit Board maintained its commitment to build the entire alignment. In September 2001, the Sound Transit Board identified the Central Link Initial Segment from Convention Place to South 154th Station as a new MOS.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(85) authorizes the “Seattle Sound Move Corridor (Link and Sounder)” project for Final Design and construction. The Central Link Initial Segment light rail transit line is the initial segment of this project. Through FY 2002, Congress appropriated $90.97 million for this project. No funding was requested for this project in FY 2003. In FY 2004, FTA is recommending a total of $75.00 million for the Seattle Central Link Initial Segment.