FTA Announces $182.4 Million in Funds for Seven Major Transit Projects Underway Nationwide

WASHINGTON – The Federal Transit Administration said it is advancing $182.4 million in New Starts funding for seven transit projects already under construction in New York, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Northern Virginia.

“By making these payments now, we’re not only fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to these projects sooner, but we’re also giving a well-timed boost to communities that have made an important investment in their transportation infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want to keep the projects moving and people working with these early investments, which will save these cities money over the long haul.”

The grants will not increase the federal government’s overall share in the projects. Rather, a portion of the federal share for each project is being paid earlier than expected because of unallocated funds in FTA’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget for new construction.

“The advance payments being announced today will free up local funds that can now be used for other transit projects that will make it easier for families to get to work, to school, and to other important destinations,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “These advances will also result in the savings of financing costs that local sponsors would have otherwise incurred.”

These projects—which include subway, light rail, and commuter rail—have already been given “full funding grant agreements,” documents that establish the federal government’s share of funding as well as annual payment schedules.

In recent years, the FTA has provided between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion annually toward new public transportation projects through its New Starts Program, the primary source of federal assistance for local sponsors of transit construction.

Dallas – Northwest/Southeast Light Rail (Advanced Payment: $17,788,000)

This 21-mile extension, which opened December 3, 2010, provides transit service in heavily traveled transportation corridors. From Dallas’ central business district, the line extends northwest 11 miles along I-45 to the city of Farmer’s Branch, and southeast 10 miles to Buckner Boulevard.

The project provides an alternative to congested highway facilities, increases transit capacity, improves connectivity to regional activity centers, and provides economic development opportunities. The line is expected to carry nearly 46,000 weekday riders by 2025. The project will cost a total of $1.4 billion, with a federal New Starts share of $700 million.

New York – Long Island Rail Road East Side Access (Advanced Payment: $44,341,000)

The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Long Island Rail Road are constructing a commuter rail project that will link LIRR passengers to a new passenger concourse in Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s east side.

The 3.5-mile East Side Access (ESA) project, using an existing rail tunnel under the East River, will increase LIRR tunnel capacity across the East River and significantly relieve over-crowded conditions throughout the LIRR network. The project will provide direct access to the east side of Manhattan for users of the LIRR, who must currently transfer to other transit lines or walk to get to the east side from Penn Station. The ESA project will serve a portion of the strongest transit market in the country.

By reducing travel time to Manhattan’s east side and relieving overcrowding conditions on existing LIRR service to Penn Station, the East Side Access project is expected to carry more than 171,000 weekday riders, including more than 27,00 new transit riders by 2030. The project will cost a total of $8.4 billion, with a federal New Starts share of $2.6 billion.

New York – Second Avenue Subway (Advanced Payment: $40,667,000)

This 2.3-mile project will provide extended subway service from 96th Street to 63rd Street in Manhattan, connecting with the existing Broadway Line at 63rd Street Station.

The project will relieve overcrowded conditions and improve service reliability on the Lexington Avenue Line, the busiest transit line in America and the only full north-south passenger rail line serving Manhattan’s eastside. The project is intended to improve mobility and meet future demand for commuters throughout the New York City metropolitan area.

The project represents Phase I of an 8.5-mile subway line which would extend the length of Manhattan’s east side from 125th Street in East Harlem to Hanover Square in the financial district. With a federal New Starts share of $1.3 billion, the $5.5 billion project is expected to serve 213,000 riders each day by 2030.

Northern Virginia – Dulles Corridor (Advanced Payment: $19,799,000)

The 11.7-mile heavy rail line will be an extension to the existing Metrorail system from just east of the West Falls Church station through Tysons Corner to its terminus at Wiehle Ave. in Reston, Virginia. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will operate the line from the Stadium-Armory station in Washington DC to Wiehle Avenue.

When complete, this project will consist of five new stations, improvements to an existing rail yard, 64 new rail cars, and 2,300 parking spaces at the Wiehle Avenue station. The Metrorail project would expand transit capacity to and from Reston and the Tysons Corner regional activity centers and provide a direct rail link for commuters from northwest Fairfax and Loudoun Counties to employment opportunities in Tysons Corner, the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington, and downtown Washington.

The extension is projected to serve 85,700 daily riders by 2030, including an estimated 10,000 new daily transit riders. The project will cost a total of $3.1 billion, with a federal New Starts share of $900 million. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority plans to design and construct a second phase of the project, which will extend the line beyond Dulles Airport into Loudoun County.

Salt Lake City – Mid Jordan LRT (Advanced Payment: $20,623,000)

The 10.6-mile Mid-Jordan LRT project will join with the Utah Transit Authority’s Sandy/Salt Lake TRAX Line at the existing Fashion Place West station, providing a direct connection to the Salt Lake City central business district, the University of Utah, and other Wasatch destinations.

When complete, the project will include nine stations, more than 3,000 park-and-ride spaces, and 28 transit vehicles. Trains are expected to operate daily between 6 a.m. and midnight with service every 12 minutes during weekday peak periods, and every 15 minutes during the remainder of the time. The line is expected to carry 9,500 daily passengers by the year 2030 and reduce the number of highway miles traveled by 65,000 daily.

The project will cost a total of $535.4 million, with a federal New Starts share of $428.3 million.

Weber County/Salt Lake City, UT – Commuter Rail (Advanced Payment: $16,500,000)

This 44-mile, eight-station commuter rail project known as FrontRunner North began service in April 2008, providing the areas of Pleasant View, Ogden, Clearfield, Layton, and Bountiful with direct commuter rail access to downtown Salt Lake City. The line currently has more than 5,100 daily riders, and is expected to serve nearly 12,000 weekday riders by 2025. The project will cost a total of $611.7 million, with a federal New Starts Share of $489.4 million.

Seattle – University Link (Advanced Payment: $22,686,000)

Sound Transit is extending its existing Central Link light rail transit line from its northern terminus at Westlake Station in downtown Seattle to the University of Washington, 3.1 miles to the northeast. The University Link corridor is the most densely developed residential and employment area in the Central Puget Sound region and the state of Washington. The extension is expected to serve more than 40,200 weekday riders by 2030. The project is estimated to cost $1.947 million, with a federal New Starts share of $813 million.

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