Another big milestone for the Westside Subway Extension today: the Federal Transit Administration gave its stamp of approval to the project’s environmental studies. In plain English, this means the project is now eligible to pursue the federal money it will need to get fully built.
What’s next for the project?
• A variety of activities can now commence to prepare for construction. Among other things, these include advanced soils testing in the vicinity of the La Brea Tar Pits, utility relocation, continued engineering and design, and property acquisition.
• The soils testing and utility relocation work could begin later this year.
• Metro will now pursue a full funding grant agreement for the project for New Starts funding from the Federal Transit Administration. Metro is planning to build the project with a combination of local Measure R funds and the federal money; getting a Record of Decision is a necessary prelude to getting the Full Funding Grant Agreement from the FTA.
Here’s the news release from Metro about the Record of Decision:
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), August 9, granted the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) a Record of Decision (ROD) for the $5.6 billion Westside Subway Extension, officially certifying that the project has satisfied all federal guidelines for environmental analysis.
The action is an important prerequisite for Metro to seek federal funding for the final design and construction of the nearly nine-mile extension of the Metro Purple Line subway from Wilshire/Western to the Westwood/VA Hospital. The Westside Subway Extension will extend high-capacity, fast, frequent, and reliable Metro Rail subway service to one of the most dense and jobs-rich areas of Los Angeles County.
The line will include seven new subway stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, Wilshire/La Cienega, Wilshire/Rodeo, Century City, Westwood/UCLA and Westwood/VA Hospital. About 49,300 people are forecasted to board the line at these seven stations. There would be about 78,000 new daily trips on the full Metro Rail System as a result of the opening of this line. Passengers will be able to travel between downtown Los Angeles and the Westwood/UCLA Station in about 25 minutes.
About three-quarters of the project cost will be locally funded from the voter-approved Measure R sales tax. With the ROD now in hand, Metro can request initiation of final design and commence discussions with the FTA to secure a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) providing the federal matching contribution for the project.
Preparation for pre-construction activities is already underway for the first phase which will bring the line to Wilshire/La Cienega. Initial utility relocation work in this segment may begin later this summer or in the fall. Construction of phase 1 to La Cienega could begin in 2014.
The full 9-mile project could open as early as 2022 if efforts to accelerate project funding are successful. These include the America Fast Forward Program, which seeks to accelerate project funding through a variety of loans and other creative financing from the federal government, as well as the proposed extension of Measure R. Portions of America Fast Forward were included in the recently enacted Federal Transportation Reauthorization Bill (MAP-21).
For more information about the Westside Subway Extension project, visit metro.net/westside