Thursday, March 06, 2014

Proposed FY15 budget bolsters New Starts

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President Obama's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget has already been questioned, per norm, by various congressional quarters. But the proposals outlined for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant programs are generally receiving warm reception from various geographic points, and tolerance, if not enthusiasm, across the political aisle.

The President's budget recommendations include $2.5 billion for FTA's grant programs, up $400 million from 2014 budget requests and an indicator, in particular, of the popularity of "New Starts" funding. Overall funding of nearly $91 billion was requested for the Department of Transportation within the proposed FY15 budget, unveiled Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

The FY15 budget recommends $1.4 billion for existing New Starts Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGAs) and $578.2 million for proposed New FFGAs. Some $275 million is identified for Core Capacity projects, while nearly $200 million is slated for "Small Starts" Grant Agreements, which have served as seed money for small streetcar startups and bus system improvments. Another $37 million is targeted for for management and oversight.

Funds requested for projects with existing New Starts FFGAs include:

$100 million for Los Angeles's Regional Connector Transit Corridor;

$150 million for San Francisco's controversial Third Street Light Rail-Central Subway Project;

$150 million for San Jose's Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension

$150 million advancing Denver's ongoing RTD Eagle P3 project;

$250 million for Honolulu's elevated High Capacity Transit Corridor;

$109.1 million to wrap up St. Paul, Minn.'s Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project, with the line set to open early this summer;

$100 million for Charlotte, N.C.'s Northeast Corridor Blue Line Light Rail Transit extension;

$47.2 million for New York's East Side Access project, linking the Long Island Rail Road with Grand Central Terminal;

$100 million for Portland, Ore.'s Milwaukie LRT extension; and

$89.6 million for Seattle's University Link LRT Extension.

Recommended New Starts Projects include:

$100 million for Los Angeles's Westside Subway Extension, Section 1;

$63.2 million for Phase II of Orlando, Fla.'s SunRail regional rail service;

$100 million for MBTA's Green Line LRT extension;

$100 million for Baltimore's Red Line;

$100 million for Maryland's Purple Line LRT project, spanning the northwest suburbs of Washington, D.C.;

$65 million for the currently stymied Columbia River Crossing Project, a proposed bridge linking Oregon and Washington states and including LRT on the span; and

$50 million for Fort Worth, Tex.'s TEX Rail project.

As separate line items, the budget recommends $275 million for Chicago Transit Authority's Red and Purple Line Modernization Project, identified as Core Capacity Projects.

Another $49 million is identified for Fort Lauderdale, Fla.'s Wave Streetcar Project.

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