U.S. Department of Transportation approves $545.9-million loan for Crenshaw/LAX Line

The loan was announced back in 2010, but a lot of paperwork goes into securing these things. The good news is that the deal is now officially complete and the money will go a long way toward the $1.75-billion Crenshaw/LAX Line, which is currently out to bid to contractors.

As for the TIFIA loans, this is the program that was greatly expanded in the two-year federal transportation spending bill approved this summer by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The gist of it: these loans have favorable terms and are well-suited for local transportation projects.

Here’s a statement from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been advocating for the expansion of TIFIA for the past three years as part of his America Fast Forward initiative:

“With today’s loan approval, Angelenos are one step closer to getting the transportation system they want and deserve. This flexible, low interest loan will help us build a vital link in our expanding public transit system.

“I traveled to Washington, D.C. to push hard for these funds through countless meetings at the White House, at the Capitol, and at the Department of Transportation. This work has clearly paid off and I will to work until the end of my term to ensure Los Angeles can continue to build a 21st Century transportation system.”

Here’s a statement from Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas:

“The Crenshaw/LAX line is the only project in the region to have received a TIFIA loan,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It is my hope and expectation that this massive infusion of federal funds will enhance the light-rail project in such a way that serves the entire region — speeding passengers to the airport, creating much-needed in the community, and providing the financial flexibility and stability that will see a station located in Leimert Park Village.”

And a statement from Metro Board Chair and Supervisor Mike Antonovich:

“Constructing the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line will bring us one step closer to connecting Los Angeles International Airport to our regional rail system.”

And here is the news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation:

WASHINGTON—U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has approved a $545.9 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan that will enable the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) to advance construction of a new light rail transit line along the Crenshaw corridor that will enhance access to existing transit service throughout Los Angeles.“President Obama called for an America built to last, and this loan program can help us achieve that,” said Secretary LaHood. “This important investment in the future Metro Crenshaw Line will create jobs in Los Angeles, building a major transportation project that will help the regional economy continue to grow and prosper.”The Crenshaw/LAX transit corridor project consists of a new 8.5-mile light rail line and at least six new transit stations with off-street parking. The line will connect existing rail service on the Metro Green Line with the Metro Exposition Line, which recently opened for service, making it easier for low-income residents, seniors and other riders to reach downtown Los Angeles, the Westside, South Bay and the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo. The project also includes a new transit vehicle maintenance and storage facility.“The TIFIA program goes a long way for communities like Los Angeles that use these loans to leverage additional funding for important projects like expanding light rail, which connects millions of area residents with jobs, while reducing congestion and improving air quality,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.

The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial private co-investment by providing supplemental and subordinate capital. Each dollar of federal funds can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment.

Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 27 projects turn $9.2 billion in DOT assistance into $36 billion in infrastructure investment across America. The recently enacted transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), transforms TIFIA into the largest transportation infrastructure loan program in history, making available up to $17 billion in credit assistance for critical infrastructure projects.

The Department’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, which provides credit assistance for infrastructure projects, provided the $545.9 million toward the $1.75 billion Crenshaw/LAX transit corridor project. The TIFIA loan was made possible through a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II grant. Projects were selected based on their ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase livability and create or preserve jobs quickly.

 

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18 replies

  1. Has Metro applied for loans to make the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor a Rail Line, the Orange bus an Orange Line, and the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor a Rail Line?

  2. The Orange line will always be a bus line. Valley residents, like little babies, whined about the line which resulted in the monstrosity that is the bus. Why should we spend any money for the Valley? They don’t deserve a light rail line and will only fight it. Spend the money elsewhere, like the subway, DT connector or sepulveda pass. Once the sepulveda pass gets there, valley residents will want to convert. Well then, use your own money you babies.

  3. Although the project is called “Crenshaw/LAX” light rail, the article states that the new line will connect the Expo and Green lines, but does not mention any new connection to LAX. In light traffic it is a 15-minute bus ride from the Aviation Bl green-line station to the LAX terminal area. On a bad day it is an hour ride.

    The Los Angeles Airport Dept and its Flyaway organization should get together and build a grade-separated rail line from Van Nuys Airport to LAX with stations in Encino/Sherman Oaks, Westwood/UCLA, Culver City, and maybe Westchester, then make a ring around the terminals. This would be so useable.

  4. From the Metro website: “The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line will extend from the existing Metro Exposition Line at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards. The Line will travel 8.5 miles to the Metro Green Line’s Aviation/LAX Station and will serve the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo; and portions of unincorporated Los Angeles County. The new Metro Rail extension will offer an alternative transportation option to congested roadways and provide significant environmental benefits, economic development and employment opportunities throughout Los Angeles County. Riders will be able to make easy connections within the entire Metro Rail system, municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services.”

    So, instead of extending the Green Line and have it meet this new line AT the airport or, have the Green Line run thru to meet the Expo Line, Green Line Passengers must still transfer with their luggage to get to LAX. It looks like intentional segregation too. Is this supposed to extend to El Segundo and further South, or connect to the Blue Line? It’s like they’re intentionally blowing tons of money for a system that goes all over the place, but goes nowhere.

  5. The Orange line right of way was prevented from becoming a rail line in large part by a California State Senator, can’t remember his name and he is no longer in office, who added language to a transportation law in the early 90’s that prevented rail on that right of way. If Metro even wanted to convert it to rail they will need to change that law.

    With the current Governor and legislature, Metro really should do something about it now even if there is no funding for it.

  6. Michael, what you are describing is the gist of the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor and the East SFV Corridor.

  7. I cannot understand why this train line won’t connect to the Expo Line (with a wye) to allow Crenshaw trains to run through to USC and downtown. I know that there is a hope that Crenshaw will eventually connect to WeHo or Hollywood somehow, but that seems far away and very expensive.

    Crenshaw and Inglewood patrons deserve one train service to downtown.

    It is true that the existing Blue/Expo tracks past Stapes and into Seventh are very crowded with trains, and this will become more crowded when the Regional Connector is finished. It would seem that Metro could juggle train congestion just like every other city. Muni in SF has four heavily-used light rail trains converge in the Market Street tunnel and seems to handle it.

    The ultimate solution may be a new east-downtown track, from the Blue Line north to the Gold Line, perhaps on Alameda Street. This would create a double-track loop around downtown, serving the Blue, Expo, Gold and Crenshaw trains. Each line could approach downtown, make a loop in one direction or the other, and head back to the burbs.

    The Santa Ana light rail is also coming … and it could also take advantage of the loop around downtown.

    Sadly, Metro seems to be unable to safely operate the one wye junction that they have, at the Blue/Expo junction on Washington.

  8. Mike K,

    Well, let’s see how you’ll like it when you see tax revenues drop if the SFV declares independence from the City of LA. You need our taxes to pay for your LA Basin centric projects more than we need yours.

  9. Everyone wants an one-train ride to someplace from everywhere in LA.

    Be real, folks! It’s not going to happen. There can’t be no such thing. There are no such thing anywhere in the world.

    The real underlying truth to that is not “one-train ride to ________” but “cheap ride to _______ that doesn’t involve me paying another $1.50 for a transfer.”

    That’s what we really want. We do not want to pay $3.00 one way just to get from taking the Green Line to the Blue Line to Downtown LA. We do not want to pay $3.00 just to go switch from the Red Line to the Expo/Blue Line to Staples Center.

    What we really want is massive fare reform.

    • Hi Hector;

      Well said. As you know, the current system sometimes rewards those going a long way on a single line, while punishing those going a short way that involves more than a single line. Because it’s a mixed bag, I think many people have learned to live with it — but I think your argument is perhaps the best one for distance or time-based fares. I’m glad to host such comments and concerns on The Source, but I also urge everyone who is a customer who feels strongly about policy to discuss it with their elected officials and/or contact customer relations at customerrelations@metro.net.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. I think the Crenshaw line should run south to Torrance along with the Green Line.

    From what I read the MTA is working with LAX to pool their money together to get the light rail into the airport or build another line, a people mover, from LAX to the next Crenshaw station on Century and Airport Blvd.

    • Hi Warren;

      There are three projects funded in part by Measure R that cover the terrain you mention: The Crenshaw/LAX Line, which will run from the Expo Line to the Green Line via Crenshaw Blvd, Florence and Aviation; a transit project to be determined (it’s under study now) to connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Aviation/Century station to the airport terminals, and; an extension of the Green Line further into the South Bay and possibly to Torrance. It depends on the operating plan for these lines, but it’s likely that a southbound train on the Crenshaw/Line will then continue south on the Green Line to its terminus.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  11. Mike K, that is ridiculous. You do understand that a tiny but vocal minority in valley village was the consistency of what you refer to as “valley residents”. The rest of us got screwed over. The valley pays for the basin projects just like everyone else in LA county pays for any other area. Also, the valley is not exactly some fringe part of LA county that is complaining. It is every bit as dense and populated as any other area and is a large chunk of the county’s population. Sorry, but we DO deserve a better “line” than the orange bus.

  12. Mike K,

    The SFV argument can be used the same for us Westside residents.

    Until the Expo Line came along we had no way to get to Downtown LA except the 10. We finally got something after all the decades of stupid political games. It’s not 100% perfect, but at least we have something.

    But still we have to keep fighting to get more. We still have to fight with stupid ordinances and restricitions that keep the trains moving so slow from USC to Downtown. We still have to fight with Beverly Hills to get the Subway to the Sea built. We still have to fight so we can get a line to LAX from the Westside, which ideally should be the same corridor as a rail link to the SFV along the 405.

    Everyone in LA pays taxes, from SFV residents to Westside residents to people living in the inner core. We all want better public transit built fast. But building public transit is not like playing SimCity. Sure things would be easy if there was a cheat code of unlimited funds, putting time to a freeze, and the almighty power to just bulldoze homes, businesses, and existing roads without public input. We’ve become too accustomed to instant gratification for everything that we now want things done fast, cheap, and instantaneously. It’s not going to happen. Real life is not SimCity.

    The only other option to get around to/from the SFV or the Westside faster is to do something different on your own. Park the car and learn how to ride a motorcycle. It’s smaller and more agile, it’s cheaper to buy and maintain than a car, and much more fuel efficient. That’s the closest people can get to instantaneous gratification of getting around faster and cheaper if you can’t wait decades of stupid political games to get mass transit built. Because reality is, there’s no way we’re going to wake up the next morning to see a rail line built right in front of your house or apartment that takes you anywhere you want in LA for a dirt cheap price.

  13. Good point Brian.

    If driving a car is getting too expensive and public transit access options suck in your area, there’s always the Harley Davidson option.

    Driving a Cadillac Escalade just to commute doesn’t make economical sense today. A motorcycle does the same thing for fraction of the cost of a car.

  14. Right now, the light rail planned for Crenshaw Blvd is called Crenshaw/LAX Line. My question is why? I heard that for right now at least the line will go down Crenshaw Blvd and merge and end at the Green Line Aviation Station. Unless, something changes where the line actually goes in to LAX why even bother including the LAX name in the line?

    Most other airports in the nation have better public transportation except LAX. If you do not put in a light rail extension to LAX, then some sort of a people mover is needed. They have airport people movers or trains that serve Newark and Kennedy Airports and they work very well. Thank goodness San Francisco finally got Bart in to SFO which makes it much easier. LAX is long over due for needing something done about providing better public transportation. The sooner; the better.

  15. I just noticed on your Metro website there is a customer code of conduct, title 6 that was put in to place by Metro in July 2010 and then updated a couple of times. My question is why does Metro not enforce their own code of conduct? I have seen many situations happen while traveling on Metro that I have indicated here in the Source previously. However, I did not know about Metro’s code of conduct for customers. I sure would like to see your customer code of conduct actually enforced.