Rail Extensions Receive Sizable FTA Grants in Omnibus Spending Bill

Sound Transit, L.A. Metro, and Santa Clara VTA received sizable funding in FTA's New Starts/Small Starts program for their light and heavy rail extensions, thanks to Congressional representatives who included them in the omnibus bill,.

December 28, 2015, 2:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid

Included in the Omnibus spending billsigned by President Obama on December 18 to keep the government funded through fiscal 2016, was substantial funding for transit projects included in the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Improvement Grants (CIG) program which funds New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity projects. 

"Within the CIG transit grants, the bill provides $1.25B to fund all projects with existing Full Funding Grant Agreements," writes Cathy Connor, Director Of Federal Government Affairs for Parsons Brinckerhoff, on Dec. 16.

Railway Track & Structures describes three of the these projects:

  • Included in the bill is $74.99 million for Sound Transit' Tacoma Link light-rail expansionIn 2008, voters approved a partnership to extend the Tacoma Link light-rail system. The 2.4-mile extension includes six new stations. 

The extension increases the existing 1.6-mile Tacoma Link light rail line that serves six stations by 150 percent.

  • The bill also includes $250 million for two major rail projects currently being constructed by LACMTA (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Metro): Sections 1 and  2 of the  Westside Purple Line Extension to Century City.

"(T)he first section of the Purple Line Extension is funded by local Measure R funds, approved by voters in November 2008," notes Metro's webpageThe heavy rail line was once known as "Subway to the Sea.

Finally, being the ranking member of some Congressional committees has its privileges, as illustrated by the press release of South Bay Congressman Mike Honda of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee:

  • Secured $150 million for BART Extension to Berryessa (Northern San Jose)

Honda fought to get full funding for the next year of Phase I of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to Silicon Valley project included in this act. “I’m glad to see that the BART project will get its full $150 million for fiscal year 2016,” Congressman Honda said. The $900 million project will extend BART to San Jose, including stations in Milpitas and Berryessa.

The Phase 1, 10-mile, two-station extension from the future Warm Springs station in Fremont in south Alameda County to San Jose is being undertaken by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

Phase 2 extends the line an additional six miles through downtown San Jose in a 5-mile-long subway, includes four stations, terminating at the Santa Clara Caltrain/ACE/Amtrak Station.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 in RT&S (Railway Track & Structures)

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