Light rail projects set to receive billions in federal funding

Written by RT&S Staff
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Building up a full workforce is one of the issues facing the Purple Line project.
Twitter photo from @PurpleLineMD.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has announced the U.S. DOT is recommending $4.45 billion both to advance seven new rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) projects for first-time funding and to continue funding for eight projects with existing construction grants in FY 2023.

These projects, which require a local match, competed for funding through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program and Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) Pilot Program.

The transit projects create and sustain construction and operations-related jobs and help communities provide better, more frequent transit service. “Public transit creates jobs, reduces traffic and pollution, and lowers the cost of living for people in the community,” said Buttigieg. “With this funding made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can help support transit projects all over the country that will improve the lives of millions of Americans.”

In addition to recommending projects for FY 23 appropriations, FTA’s FY 2023 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations identifies projects that will receive funding through the CIG and EPD Pilot Programs for FY 2022 and 2023 under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as funding provided in FY 2022 through the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Through this combination of FY 2022 and FY 2023 funding, FTA can accelerate payments to projects, completing the federal commitment for 25 projects. This will not only result in lower financing costs incurred on projects but also will help meet demand by freeing up funds for additional new projects. In the last year alone, there has been a 150% increase in the number of projects entering the programs. 

“FTA looks forward to working with communities across the country to provide exciting new transit options,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “These investments support President Biden’s commitment to combat climate change while also improving safety, advancing equity, and improving quality of life for millions of Americans.”

This announcement, consistent with the President’s FY 2023 budget, includes first-time funding recommendations for seven transit projects in six states, including:

  • In California, the East San Fernando Valley Corridor Phase 1 light rail project is recommended for EPD Pilot Program funding. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposes to construct a 6.7-mile light rail project with 11 stations, nine traction power substations, an overhead contact system, new vehicles, and a maintenance and storage facility. (First-time funding recommendation for $250 million); 
  • In California, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Silicon Valley Phase II heavy rail project is recommended for EPD Pilot Program funding. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority proposes to extend BART service 6 miles from the Berryessa Station through downtown San Jose to Santa Clara. The project includes four stations, 5 miles of subway tunnels, new heavy rail vehicles, two mid-tunnel ventilation and egress facilities, and a storage yard and maintenance facility. The project is being implemented by VTA in partnership with BART. (First-time funding recommendation for $200 million); 
  • In New York/New Jersey, the Hudson Tunnels commuter rail project is recommended for CIG funding. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in cooperation with the Gateway Development Commission, New Jersey Transit Corporation, and Amtrak, propose the construction of a new two-track heavy rail tunnel along the Northeast Corridor between New Jersey and Manhattan’s Penn Station. The project includes the Hudson Yards right-of-way preservation project, a new Hudson Tunnel, and the rehabilitation and modernization of the existing North River tunnel. The project is part of the Northeast Corridor Gateway Program, a series of strategic rail infrastructure investments designed to improve current service and create new capacity. These funds will not be allocated to the Hudson Tunnel project until the project sponsor meets statutory requirements for receipt of federal funds. (First-time funding recommendation for $100 million); and
  • In New York, the Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 heavy rail project is recommended for CIG funding. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) proposes to extend heavy rail subway service 1.5 miles along the East Side of Manhattan. The project is the second of four planned sections of the Second Avenue Subway and connects the northern end of Phase 1 at 96th Street to the overcrowded Lexington Avenue Line at 125th Street. The project includes three new stations and signal and communications systems. (First-time funding recommendation for $400 million). 

The President’s FY 2023 budget also includes proposed funding for eight projects with existing construction grant agreements, including:

In California:

  • $813 million recommended for the existing Los Angeles Westside Subway Sections 1-3 rail projects; and
  • $241 million recommended for the existing San Diego Mid-Coast Light Rail transit project.

In Minnesota:

  • $250 million recommended for the existing Minneapolis Southwest Light Rail Transit project.

In New Jersey:

  • $339.5 million recommended for the existing Secaucus Portal North Bridge rail project.

In Washington:

  • $318 million recommended for the existing Seattle Federal Way Link Light Rail extension project; and
  • $250 million recommended for the existing Seattle Lynwood Link Light Rail extension project.

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