Transit Briefs: HART, MARTA, Santa Clara VTA, WMATAWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approves Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s (HART) 2022 Recovery Plan. Also, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) celebrates completion of Edgewood/Candler Park transit-oriented development; San Jose (Calif.) State University, the city of San Jose, and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) help launch a free transit-pass program; and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) reports Potomac Yard Station project delays.
Hawaii’s HART on Sept. 30 reported that FTA signed off on its 2022 Recovery Plan documenting how the 20-mile, 21-station rail line in O‘ahu between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center will be completed within the amount of funding available (see map below). HART submitted the FTA-required plan in June. Due to a funding shortfall estimated in March 2021, the plan proposed truncating the project by 1.25 miles with an interim terminus at the Civic Center Station, located at the intersection of Halekauwila Street and South Street, and deferring the Pearl Highlands Parking Garage. The moves will keep the overall cost under $10 billion, according to HART, which said it remains committed to completing the full scope of the project to the Ala Moana Transit Center in a subsequent phase.
FTA is currently conducting an environmental reevaluation of the truncated scope, HART said.
Plan approval means “HART is now eligible to receive the remaining $744 million in federal funding under the Full Funding Grant Agreement [signed in 2012],” according to the transit agency. “This is first infusion of federal funds from the Full Funding Grant Agreement to the project since 2017.”
“We are so thankful for the support and communication from the FTA to accept the recovery plan as is and amend the Full Funding Grant Agreement, which is unprecedented, so that we may see the project through to completion,” HART Executive Director and CEO Lori Kahikina said. “It is a strong show of confidence in the work of this administration and in the cooperation and partnership with our many stakeholders including Mayor Blangiardi, the HART Board, Department of Transportation Services and the Honolulu City Council.”
HART is slated to receive $125 million when the Full Funding Grant Agreement is amended and $250 million when it awards the City Center Guideway and Stations (CCGS) contract, projected for fiscal year 2024.
MARTA’s 6.4-acre Edgewood/Candler Park transit-oriented development (TOD) on the Blue/Green Line in DeKalb County, Ga., is now complete. Since groundbreaking in 2016, it has become home to Spoke Apartments (202 units, including 22 affordable units; completed in 2017) and Quill Apartments (155 units, including 53 affordable units; completed in 2022); a 21,000-square-foot facility for Moving in the Spirit, a creative youth development program (completed in 2020); an 8,000-square-foot retail/office building (completed in 2020); a half-acre park (completed in 2020); a 393-space parking deck for MARTA customers and TOD residents and patrons (completed in 2022); a redesigned bus loop that can accommodate standard and articulated buses (completed in 2022); and art commissioned by MARTA’s public art program Artbound.
According to MARTA the development cost was $95 million. The bus loop and MARTA replacement parking were covered by a $4.7 million Federal Highway Administration Surface Transportation Block Grant, which includes a 25% local match from MARTA.
“This development fulfills MARTA’s larger TOD and affordable housing commitment established by the MARTA Board; generates ridership and a return on our ground leases; and promotes a sustainable, affordable and growing future for the people of this region,” MARTA interim General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood said.
MARTA’s TOD Office has led additional developments at Lindbergh Center, Chamblee, Avondale, and King Memorial rail stations, with plans for TODs at Arts Center, Bankhead, and other MARTA properties. Additionally, the Office is partnering with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs respectively to preserve and support the development of affordable housing near transit.
San Jose State University (SJSU), the city of San Jose, and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) late last month helped introduce the Clipper BayPass as a pilot program created by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Some 50,000 Bay area residents—including students from SJSU, San Francisco State University, the University of California’s Berkeley campus, and Santa Rosa Junior College, and residents of specific affordable housing communities—will have free access for two years to 24 Bay Area transit operators that accept the Clipper Card, including VTA, AC Transit, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and Caltrain.
SJSU Interim President Steve Perez said the pilot program will not only help the university achieve its environmental goals, but also contribute to students’ success.
“Students need basic needs to be successful, and one of those basic needs is transportation,” Perez said. “How can you be a successful student if you can’t get to campus regularly? How can you economically get to campus in a sustainable way?”
WMATA on Sept. 30 reported that it would extend the closure of six stations south of Reagan National Airport “due to unexpected site conditions and remediation efforts” for the new Potomac Yard Station in Alexandra, Va. The six stations had been scheduled to reopen in October.
“The complex process to ensure proper signal integration, build and connect new tracks to the future Potomac Yard Station, and complete all safety critical work necessary to operate service started three weeks ago,” WMATA explained. “As site work got under way, crews discovered issues with the underlying soil that affected the structural stability of the ground beneath the tracks. Construction was stopped and a remediation plan was developed and implemented. This work was beyond the initial scope of the tie-in work. Reinforcing the ground below the tracks required removing any work already completed, excavating additional soil beneath 1,400 feet of track, and installing new subgrade materials to provide the required stability.”
Track construction and integration has now resumed on the site.
Work to tie-in new tracks to the future station, which was slated to conclude on Oct. 22, will now end on Nov. 5. Free shuttle bus service will continue to be available to customers through the extension. The Metroway-Potomac Yard line will continue to be free, WMATA said, and parking fees at Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn, and Huntington stations will continue to be waived.
The Potomac Yard Station (construction photographs, left) will be located at the southern end of National Landing on WMATA’s Yellow and Blue rapid transit lines between the existing Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Braddock Road stations. “This project was initiated by the city of Alexandria and will be funded by tax revenues and developer contributions generated by planned new development in the Potomac Yard neighborhood, as well as state grants and loans and regional sources,” according to WMATA. It will be the transit agency’s second infill station; the NoMa-Gallaudet U Station opened in 2004.
WMATA also reported that the Potomac Yard Station will not open this calendar year. The delay in completing station construction “is due to the contractor’s failure to meet the project delivery schedule,” according to the transit agency, which noted it “will continue to work with the contractor to produce an achievable schedule and will provide an update by the end of this year.”
“We are frustrated with these developments on the Potomac Yard Station project,” WMATA Executive Vice President of Capital Delivery Andy Off said. “The team has been working around the clock to push the project delivery team to perform in accordance with the schedule. Recently, it has become clear that the published schedule will not be met, unfortunately delaying the opening of this important station.”