Feds Endorse 30/10 Initiative

Senator Barbara Boxer announces federal support for 30/10 Initiative, subway extension at ULI Conference in Hollywood.

Setting the stage for major federal funding to flow into Los Angeles, Senator Barbara Boxer today announced that the Obama Administration has endorsed the 30/10 Initiative to accelerate 12 regional  transportation projects, with a pledge from the U.S. DOT to consider the 30/10 initiative in the next transportation reauthorization bill.

That’s quite an endorsement for a plan originally proposed by L.A. City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, which has received growing political support, most recently from Rep. Judy Chu, and one that is now being considered a model for funding similar projects across the country.

“The secretary (Ray Lahood) is also working with me on finding every opportunity under current law so we can accelerate 30/10 now,” Boxer said in a press statement.  Read Boxer’s news release here.

At an Urban Land Institute conference in Hollywood this afternoon, Boxer also announced that the Federal Transit Administration has agreed to include the whole 9.3 mile alignment for the Westside Subway Extension Project into its preliminary engineering process, which essentially consolidates the environmental review for the entire project rather than going through a piecemeal approach that would add years to the construction schedule.

Let’s not forget that while the subway extension was highlighted, the 30/10 initiative also includes the Regional Connector, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, Crenshaw Corridor light rail, an LAX Green Line connection and other projects designed to improve mobility countywide.

Both of these announcements could bring federal funding more quickly to the region, although there are still hurdles to overcome, namely, securing funding through federal authorization and appropriations processes.

And while the FTA agreement to evaluate the whole alignment of the Westside Subway Extension in one shot eliminates the need to go through three separate full funding grant agreements, it must be made clear that no funding has yet been immediately allocated to the project.

Streamlining the environmental process for the subway project does, however, bring Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood/UCLA into a near-term funding scenario.  These stations are considered by the Metro project team as the “brass ring” locations where boardings are forecasted to be high, which helps make the project more competitive for federal funding.

The announcements come as welcome news to Metro, which says it looks forward to working with the administration to find a way to make 30/10 happen.

“The timing of this announcement adds to the momentum we’re experiencing here as new construction projects break ground and we advance multiple transit corridor studies throughout Los Angeles County,” Board Chair Ara Najarian said in a statement.