Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension cleared to enter final design phase

To put the following into English, this means the subway and connector projects are now a step closer to signing a funding agreement with the federal government, although it doesn’t necessarily speed up the very long process of getting that money. Here’s the update from Metro’s government relations staff:

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will use the new and streamlined process for Section 5309 New Starts projects, as provided in MAP-21, when considering our agency’s New Starts projects. This step by the FTA will permit both the Regional Connector and the Westside Subway Extension projects to advance into their Final Design phases. Under MAP-21, the New Starts process was streamlined by creating two threshold approval steps prior to receiving a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA). The two steps are Project Development, which includes the completion of the environmental review process, selecting a locally preferred alternative and adopting a project into a fiscally constrained long range transportation plan. The second step is broadly referred to as the Engineering phase, which includes gaining commitments for all non-New Starts funding and the completion of engineering and design work. For the Section 5309 process under SAFETEA-LU, projects had to advance through three distinct phases, alternative analysis, preliminary engineering and final design prior to securing an FFGA.

We appreciate the hard work and dedication of FTA officials on our New Starts projects and the continued partnership we maintain with the FTA’s local office in Los Angeles, regional office in San Francisco and national headquarters in Washington, DC. I would also like to commend our agency staff who have worked diligently on this matter.