LA Metro awarded $703.6M in state grants

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Metro Irwindale station on the Gold Line. Photo: LACMTA

Los Angeles-area transit and rail freight transportation projects just got a generous public funding boost.

The California Transportation Commission on Thursday approved $703.6 million in SB-1 funding for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) as part of its statewide transportation funding allocations.

The California Transportation Agency (CalSTA) also recently announced its SB-1 award for funding Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Improvements, with more than $1 billion designated for Metro. With today’s award of $703.6 million from the CTC and the award of $1.088 billion from CalSTA, the State has made a commitment to fund more than $1.8 billion in projects for Metro.

The SB-1 legislation is the state’s “gas tax” and vehicle fee transportation funding program approved by the Legislature in 2017 and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The awards represent the largest allocation of SB-1 funds in California to date. Metro received approximately 26% of total funding available statewide, the Commission said, “underscoring the magnitude of needed transportation improvements for the congested L.A. region.”

The funding will go to Metro’s program of projects that include highway, transit and freight elements. The county’s annual transit ridership is four times that of any other county in the state, and Metro also has the highest annual passenger miles of any operator in California. L.A. County has seven of the state’s 10 most congested highway corridors and its ports handle 86% of all containers for California.

“The path to a more sustainable, resilient tomorrow runs through our investments in infrastructure today,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti. “SB-1 is putting billions of dollars to work fixing our roads and creating more sustainable transportation options – giving Californians healthier air to breathe, less congestion and good-paying jobs that will stimulate economic growth across our state.”

Metro will combine SB-1 gas tax funds with its own locally- generated transportation sales tax contributions to continue transforming L.A. County’s transportation system and delivering Measure M and R projects.

Measure R, approved by voters in 2008, proposed a half-cent sale tax increase in Los Angeles County for 30 years in order to pay for transportation projects and improvements.

In 2016 voters approved an additional permanent half-cent tax increase, known as Measure M, to bolster funding.

“Metro is now leading a transportation revolution in Los Angeles County thanks to our locally funded Measure M and R programs,” said Metro Chief Executive Phillip A. Washington. “Our programs depend on significant funding participation from both the state and federal governments. These SB-1 funds will help us leverage our local funding commitments to fully and quickly implement our region’s critically needed transportation improvements.”

Metro transportation projects announced for SB-1 funding in several program categories include:

  • Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit Station Project: $150 million

Trade Corridor Enhancement Program

  • America’s Global Freight Gateway: Southern California Rail Project: $128.6 million

The CalSTA’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Improvements Program seeks to modernize transportation infrastructure, improve safety and grow rail ridership. The Transit Capital projects that were awarded multi-year funding include:

Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program – $1.088 Billion

  • Gold Line Foothill Light Rail Extension to Montclair
  • East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor
  • West Santa Ana Branch Light Rail Transit Corridor
  • Green Line Light Rail Extension to Torrance
  • Orange/Red Line to Gold Line BRT Transit Corridor
  • Vermont Transit Corridor
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