Where $281 million in federal transit grants will go

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WASHINGTON — The Federal Transit Administration announced Wednesday the award of $281 million in funding for five mass transit projects in Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Texas.

FTA, however, has not yet awarded $760 million of the $2.62 billion Congress set aside from these transit grants in fiscal 2018 almost two months after the end of the budget year.

The American Public Transportation Association, which represents local transit agencies, said it was “pleased” by the announcement that FTA was awarding some of the Capital Investment Grant funds.

“APTA encourages the FTA to allocate the remaining CIG funds that were appropriated by Congress,” said spokeswoman Virginia Miller.

FTA said all five of the new grants were approved after the projects either completed or entered the process of “completing the rigorous CIG program steps as outlined in law.”

"FTA continues to evaluate and advance projects in the CIG program, considering each project on its individual merits while demonstrating good governance consistent with discretion afforded in federal law," the FTA's acting administrator, K. Jane Williams, said in a press release.

The largest of the new grants covers $100 million of the requested $1.3 billion in federal funding for the overall $3.7 billion cost of constructing section 3 extension of the Los Angeles Westside Purple line.

The 2.6-mile extension between Century City and the Veterans Affairs hospital includes two stations.

The first two of the three sections of the Purple Line extension are currently under construction. Section 3 is not expected to be put into service until 2028.

The second California grant is $80 million for the San Diego Mid-Coast Corridor Light Rail project between downtown San Diego and the University City area.

The 10.92-mile light rail extension received approval from FTA in 2017 for a $1.04 billion grant over 10 years covering nearly half of the $2.17 billion cost.

Revenue from TransNet, a countywide half-cent sales tax for transportation, will cover half of the total project.

San Diego area officials said Thursday the second-year federal allocation for the project in 2017 was $50 million rather than the expected $125 million. The $80 million provided Wednesday fulfills the $125 million federal funding commitment for FY 2017, and also provides an additional $5 million that will save on long-term borrowing costs.

“We’ve been pushing hard for additional transportation funding for the Mid-Coast Trolley extension to create a more vibrant transit network for the San Diego region,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “This support from the Federal Transit Administration will help us deliver one of the largest and most significant transit projects in San Diego history on time and on budget. It will also save local taxpayers millions of dollars that can be used for other critical transportation upgrades.”

A $25 million grant in Arizona will go to the Tempe Streetcar project, completing the $75 million multiyear commitment by the federal government to help pay for the $201.9 million project. The streetcar will cover a three mile stretch with 14 stations between downtown Tempe and Arizona State University, connecting with existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa and the airport.

The $74.08 million Minnesota grant will cover about half the cost of a $150.7 million Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project running along a 17-mile stretch of Interstate 35 that will connect employment centers in downtown Minneapolis, at Best Buy Headquarters, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Target Corp. and Southtown Shopping Center.

The $2 million Texas grant will complete the $60.76 million federal share of the $128.7 million cost of platform extensions for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Red and Blue lines.

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Infrastructure Transportation industry DOT Washington DC California Arizona Minnesota Texas
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