Federal government shutdown update

Here’s the update from Metro government relations staff from late Friday — doesn’t appear much has changed over the weekend:

While the U.S. Senate has moved to adopt a continuing resolution to keep the federal government operating at a level consistent with sequestration levels ($986 billion), it remains unclear what the U.S. House of Representatives will do next to avoid a government shutdown. A memorandum released yesterday by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) noted that in the event of a shutdown next week roughly 95% of the agency’s staff would be furloughed. The Federal Highway Administration, which operates under contract authority authorized by MAP-21, may largely avoid the furlough of employees.

As of Friday afternoon, House leaders were considering their options, including the option of adopting a week-long continuing resolution which would give both the Senate and House more time to work out their differences and avert a government shutdown next Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. We will be in close contact with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) over the weekend as we continue to gauge the impact of a potential government shutdown on our agency.

As we’ve mentioned before, one likely impact of the FTA being largely shuttered is that processing of Metro grant applications — i.e. for the Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension — could be delayed.

Here’s the latest media story from the New York Times, which suggests that in D.C. the conversation has largely shifted from a possible deal to who is at fault. Shocker!

Letter from Federal Transit Administration on possible federal government shutdown next week

Potential FTA Shutdown Dear Colleague 09 26 13

The above letter was sent from Peter Rogoff, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, to transit agencies across the United States. One obvious impact of a shutdown, as the letter states, is that the FTA won’t be able to process grants that are being negotiated with Metro — including the pending Full-Funding Grant Agreement for the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension.

Metro Board meeting roundup

Wow. A Metro Board of Directors meeting that was shorter than the last Batman movie! That doesn’t happen often, readers.

A few items of interestingness:

Item 15 — The Board approved a competitive grant program framework to help fund a series of regional Open Streets events — i.e. CicLAvia type events — across Los Angeles County. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti cited the overwhelming success of CicLAvia in L.A. and said he would like to see more of these type of events promoting bike riding and walking both across L.A. and in other cities in Los Angeles County. Metro staff is working on finding an eligible funding source so that $2 million can be budgeting annually, beginning with the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Staff report

Item 16 — The Board voted to give Metro the authority to continue with planning and environmental studies for Measure R second- and third-decade Measure R projects. From a consumer standpoint, the decision could pave the way for draft environmental studies for the Eastside Gold Line Extension and South Bay Green Line Extension to be released in 2014. Staff report

As part of that item, Board Member Don Knabe introduced a motion that would include the SR-710 North project in the Measure R acceleration financing plan that the Board approved in June. At the time, the 710 North project was excluded from the plan. The Board will consider the motion during its October round of meetings.

Item 38 — The Board approved an increase to the budget for the first phase of the Expo Line, from $932 million to $971 million. Metro is responsible for $7 million of the increase, the Expo Line Construction Authority for $32 million. Staff report

Item 55The Board approved a motion by Board Chair Diane DuBois that County Counsel revise public input rules that both maximizes public input and provides the Board more flexibility in conducting meetings. The Board will consider those changes in the future.

Metro Board of Directors meeting for September is underway

September Metro Board agenda

Good morning, Source readers! Metro Board Chairwoman Diane DuBois has just dropped the gavel on the September meeting of the agency’s Board of Directors, the 13-member group that serves as the ultimate deciders for Metro.

The agenda is above. It looks to be a fairly mellow meeting — but you never know what kind of interestingness could break out!

Those who wish to listen to the meeting can phone 213-922-6045.

As per usual, I’ll provide updates on the meeting later on the blog.

Gold Line Foothill Extension update: concrete pours for another big bridge and grade crossings almost half complete!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More good news for the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, which is adding 11.5 miles to the Gold Line between eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border with six new stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and two in Azusa.

Here’s the latest update from Habib Balian, CEO of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency building the line:

Over the last several months, the Pasadena to Azusa project has hit its full stride as our contractors continue to achieve important milestones everywhere along the 11.5-mile alignment. Nearly half of the at-grade crossings for the project are now complete, with six more currently under construction. The community impacted at each of these crossings and subsequent closures have so far been supportive and understanding so that our work can be completed in the least amount of time possible; for that we are grateful.

Earlier this week, the last concrete pour was completed for the 700-foot-long San Gabriel River Bridge. It was critical that all structural work using the river bed be complete by October, in time for the rainy season; and FTC is on schedule to achieve that goal.

FTC is also making great strides in completing the realignment of the nearly four miles of freight track between the San Gabriel River Bridge and the Glendora city boundary. This work had to be completed without interrupting freight service into the San Gabriel Valley. All work is now complete on the eastern portion of the shared corridor – between San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa and the Glendora boundary. All at-grade crossing improvements within this section of the project are now complete, as well as three new freight bridges. Work continues on the realignment west of San Gabriel Ave.

At the Operations Campus, crews are nearly ready to start laying the six miles of track that will be installed within the $265 million facility. As of today, more than half of the 213 OCS pole foundations are drilled and poured, and the Maintenance of Way storage structure is nearly complete.


Photos: Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

City of Westlake Village holds groundbreaking for Lindero Canyon Bridge Widening Project

Metro Highway Program's Lan Saadatnejadi speaks at the Lindero Canyon/101 bridge project groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

Metro Highway Program Executive Officer Lan Saadatnejadi speaks at the Lindero Canyon/101 bridge project groundbreaking. Photo: Paul Gonzales/Metro

The City of Westlake Village held a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the Lindero Canyon/101 Freeway bridge project. When the project is completed, the Lindero Canyon Road/101 bridge will feature an additional travel lane in each direction of traffic and a series of unique aesthetic improvements. Funding for this project is provided by Measure R.

“Westlake Village has been a strong partner with Metro to quickly and effectively move forward congestion relief projects like the Lindero Canyon Bridge Widening Project using the Measure R funds collected in Los Angeles County,” said Metro’s Executive Director of Highway Project Delivery Doug Failing. “We want all of our local partners to be this effective in providing congestion relief for their residents.”

To get the latest info on the project, visit the city’s website.

Metro starting to prepare for possible shutdown of federal government

The federal government may or may not be open for business one week from tomorrow. That is potentially a problem for Metro and many other transit agencies that are receiving or are set to secure funding for transportation projects and other programs.

Here’s the latest update from Metro’s government relations staff:

Congressional Gridlock on Continuing Resolution Leads Federal Agencies to Update Plans for Shutdown

With less than two weeks before a potential shutdown of the federal government, the U.S. House of Representatives moved today to pass a continuing resolution that would defund the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Earlier this week, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy making clear that the President’s advisors would recommend that President Obama veto the House measure that was adopted today.

The U.S. Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), has vowed to adopt a continuing resolution without provisions that defund the ACA. The considerable gap between the House and Senate is leading some observers to conclude that a shutdown of the federal government is likely if a continuing resolution is not adopted by September 30, 2013.

Continue reading

In response to PEPRA issue’s temporary solution, Moody’s confirms good credit rating for Metro

This issue is an excellent example of the domino effect. Metro and other California transit agencies were threatened with losing billions of dollars in federal funds because of a dispute between the state and the U.S. Department of Labor over whether the state’s pension reform violated the rights of transit workers.

As a result, Moody’s had threatened to downgrade the credit ratings for Metro and other agencies. That, in turn, would have made it very difficult for Metro to negotiate loans and bonds. Losing federal funds and lending ability would have spell doom for several Metro projects, including the Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

A state bill, AB 1222, approved by the Legislature last week solves the problem for now. Some transit workers will be exempted from pension reform, the state-Labor Department dispute will be resolved in court and now Moody’s has confirmed Metro’s credit rating.

Thank whew-ness! Here’s the update from Metro CEO Art Leahy:

PEPRA/13(C) Update: Moody’s Investor Service Confirms Credit Ratings for California Transit Agencies

Earlier today, Moody’s Investor Service confirmed the credit rating for our agency and other California transit agencies, and revised their outlooks to stable based on legislation (AB1222) recently adopted by the California State Legislature. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law in the very near future. Last month, Moody’s issued a notice that it had placed the ratings for our agency and other transit agencies in the State of California under review for downgrade due to the ongoing PEPRA/13C dispute. The Moody’s notice cited the U.S. Department of Labor’s potential delay in certifying federal transportation grants (capital and operations) as the rationale for placing the transportation agencies under review for downgrade. I would like to extend our appreciation to our Board members, Governor Brown, members of the California State Legislature, our U.S. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives from Los Angeles County and senior officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation for working cooperatively with our staff to favorably resolve this matter. Please find here a copy of Moody’s notice.

Staff report on Measure R second and third decade projects

Measure R 2nd/3rd decade update

The Metro Board of Directors is gearing up for its September meetings and agendas are now posted for Board Committees.

Of those, I thought the above Metro staff report above was the most interesting. It provides an update on the status of Measure R transit and road projects. It also explains a policy decision that the Board may make this month on moving ahead with the planning documents for a variety of projects due to be completed in the second and third decade of Measure R — i.e. the 2020s and 2030s.

On the transit side, this includes projects such as an extension of the Eastside Transit Corridor Phase 2 (a possible Gold Line extension), the South Bay Green Line Extension and a transit project to span the Sepulveda Pass, among others. There’s more info on metro.net’s planning page.

The item is scheduled to be discussed at the Board’s Planning Committee meeting this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.  If you have questions about any of the ongoing studies, I’ll try to answer them on the comments page.

AB 1222 passes the state Assembly

Here’s the update from Metro CEO Art Leahy:

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) passed the Assembly unanimously today with a vote of 72-0. This measure creates a 15 month exemption from the state’s pension reform law and will lead to the release of our federal funding. This final step completes the legislative process for this measure and it will now be transmitted to the Governor for his consideration. We will continue to work with the Governor’s office and our federal partners to ensure a smooth implementation of this measure and to quickly access our vital federal funding. I would like to thank Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois and Metro Board Directors Eric Garcetti and Zev Yaroslavsky for their efforts in both Sacramento and Washington.

What’s all this about? It’s a bill that would exempt transit workers from the state’s pension reform (PEPRA) in order to continue the flow of federal transit funds to transit agencies in California, including Metro, which has more than $3 billion at stake.

More background in our earlier post.