President Barack Obama on Monday released his 2012 budget, which included his priorities for transportation spending. One area of particular concern for Metro is New Starts funding — the program run by the Federal Transit Administration to help local areas pay for big, pricey transit projects.
The good news is that not only have the Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector made the list — we knew that yesterday — but today the FTA is saying that both projects may be eligible for funding in fiscal year 2012 from $400 million in the President’s budget for large capital projects.
All of this is a prelude to Metro signing a funding agreement with the FTA for both projects. At this point, all signs are very positive that the FTA intends to do so. In December, the FTA gave Metro approval to move both projects into preliminary engineering. And now, two months later, the FTA is saying there may be money available in next year’s budget for both projects.
The FTA is projected to contribute $2 billion to the subway project and about $800 million for the Regional Connector. Because of the size of that investment of federal taxpayer money, the FTA puts projects through the paces to ensure taxpayer money is well spent.
Here’s the FTA’s news release. Check out some of the other projects they’re funding — they include the Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan, new commuter rail in Denver, light rail extensions in San Francisco and Portland and bus rapid transit projects in several cities, including El Paso, Grand Rapids, Fresno and the suburban Seattle area.