May 25, 2009
See numerous senior transit positions — including two CEOs, one assistant general manager, and a senior vice president — in today's Classifieds.
LaHood Awards ARRA Funds for Transit Projects
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced a total of $742.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for public transit projects throughout the U.S.
The projects receiving ARRA grants have already entered into Full Funding Grant Agreements with the Federal Transit Administration; the ARRA funds do not increase the federal commitment to the projects, but expedite funds committed under the existing agreements.
On May 13, Vice President Joe Biden submitted his first quarterly report to the President detailing progress implementing ARRA. The report, which covers the period ending May 5, shows that more than $88 billion has been made available for all programs and projects, and more than 3,000 transportation construction projects have been funded in 52 states and territories.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority received ARRA funding for two projects: $195.4 million for MTA Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access and $78.9 million for the first phase of MTA New York City Transit’s Second Avenue Subway.
East Side Access refers to a new direct 3.5-mile commuter rail extension from LIRR’s Main and Port Washington branch lines to Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East Side; it will be the railroad’s first Manhattan service that does not go into Penn Station.
Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway involves the construction of 2.3 miles of new subway on Manhattan’s East Side from 96th to 63rd Streets, connecting with the existing Broadway Line at the 63rd Street Station. It incorporates three new stations—at 96th, 86th, and 72nd streets—and modification of the existing 63rd Street Station, as well as new tunnels.
In Eugene, OR, the Lane Transit District (LTD) received $2.9 million in ARRA funds to complete the $41.3 million Gateway EmX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) extension.
LTD General Manager Mark Pangborn commented: “Small Starts funds created a foundation for this project, but the arrival of ARRA funds is the final piece of the funding puzzle and allows the construction to move full steam ahead.”
“The project is underway and creating jobs as we speak,” said LTD spokesperson Andy Vobora. “You could say that having the project budget fully funded will allow us an opportunity to evaluate project enhancements such as bike and pedestrian path lighting adjacent to the line, real-time passenger information, etc.”
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) received $78.4 million in ARRA funds for early work on the light rail Green Line, which will run from North Carrollton in the northwest to Buckner in the southeast. DART Executive Director Gary Thomas called the grant a “vote of confidence,” adding: “These funds will go a long way toward creating jobs and improving connections across north Texas.”
“We’re still trying to find out some of the nuances,” commented Patrick Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles Corridor Rail Project for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, on the $77.3 million in ARRA funds for the rail expansion to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, VA. “Certainly the ability to have more cash available this year will lower our financing costs and will improve our cashflow situation. It should free up some of our local money to do other things at this point.”
The Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) Mid-Jordan TRAX light rail line in Salt Lake City received $90.9 million through ARRA.
According to Ralph Jackson, UTA deputy chief of program development: “These funds will allow UTA to accelerate work on the Mid-Jordan line. By getting this money up front, UTA will be able to keep more workers on the job and move forward more quickly with construction.”