U.S. Senate panel puts $81 million in budget for Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday awarded $81 million in funding in the 2013 federal budget to two key Metro transit projects in Los Angeles, the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector.

“Thanks to the hard work of Senator Feinstein, today’s vote by the Senate Committee on Appropriations is another positive step towards getting Los Angeles the funding it needs to build a more robust transit network and put thousands of Angelenos back to work,” said Metro Board Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “This vote keeps intact the $50 million for the Westside Subway Extension and $31 million for the Regional Connector, which is squarely in line with what President Obama included for our New Starts projects.”

President Barack Obama earlier this year recommended the $81 million in federal New Starts money for the projects. The funds still must be approved by the full Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The funds for the Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector would be the first payment of a much larger commitment to the projects. The subway is ultimately expected to receive $2.4 billion and the Connector $671 million from New Starts, a federal program that helps local areas built large transit projects.

The $81 million will help both projects complete their final design phase and advance to construction. Under current funding plans, the 3.9-mile first phase of the Westside Subway Extension is scheduled to be built along Wilshire Boulevard between Western Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard by 2020.

The 1.9-mile Regional Connector is scheduled to be completed by 2019. The fully underground line would tie together the Gold Line, Blue Line and Expo Line in downtown Los Angeles, allowing Metro Rail passengers to reach many downtown and regional destinations without having to change trains.

Both the Subway and Connector projects are funded in part by Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by more than two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

In his State of the City speech on Wednesday, Mayor Villaraigosa called for a ballot measure to allow voters to decide whether to extend the Measure R sales tax beyond its 2039 expiration date. The extra sales tax receipts would be used to accelerate the 12 transit projects in Measure R, allowing for the subway to reach Westwood in about a decade instead of 2036.

The Metro Board of Directors would have to approve such a ballot measure; the Board this week just began public discussions of the issue.


9 replies

  1. If LA will grant access to rights of way, JPods will build a network at no cost to the taxpayers and no operating subsides.

  2. If we want less congestion then why not charge people more to drive through the use of toll roads and congestion pricing? User fees would also likely be superior to gas taxes as it would be an upfront cost, which drivers may very well be more aware of if enacted.

    Why have people subsidize an expensive rail system they may never use when we could just charge them fully for driving?

  3. Bob- Where do you see anyone calling the “Subway to the Sea”? It’s been known as the Westside Subway Extension for several years.

  4. I thought the sea began along the coastline in Santa Monica, not at La Cienega? Good to know that the “Subway to the Sea” project is mindful of climate change.

  5. This bill again, will be defeated in the House. Why bother with reporting with these subjects? All it does is make empty promises that it passed that Senate obviously because it is controlled by the Democrats, but we all know that it’s never going to get passed through the GOP controlled House and will never get its way in front of the President’s desk to sign.

    Metro needs to stop wasting their time crossing their fingers for something that’s not bound to happen in this polarized political arena. Instead, they could start making changes themselves. There are other ways to do find funds. Why hasn’t Metro taken heed to some of the ideas that people on this board have been suggesting? Or is it because our words aren’t “good enough” to be taken into consideration to?