One of the challenges of having an ambitious agenda when it comes to building transportation projects is staying on top of funding and evoling project cost information. In a perfect world, things such as revenue streams and project budgets never budge; in the real world they change frequently and adjustments have to be made to accomplish the Long Range Transportation Plan mobility improvements.
Thus, the above report from Metro staff that forecasts the costs of carrying out the agency's long-range plan and changes that may need to be made to pay for them. The changes will be reviewed and considered by the Metro Board of Directors at this month's round of meetings, beginning later this afternoon with the Finance Committee.
It's a long and somewhat technical report. The gist of it is this: Metro is moving some funds around to pay for roughly $1.6 billion worth of project costs that have arisen since the last report to the Board in November 2011.
The largest chunk of that money is for a Metro initiative to tackle deferred maintenance across the Metro bus and rail system to the tune of $750 million. Improvements made in the 1990’s are showing their age and need attention: replacement buses, replacement rail cars, and overhead catenaries and numerous other elements of our transit system will require attention over the next six years.
Other significant costs: a $78 million increase to the budget of the complex I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project and putting aside more contingency money for both the Purple Line Extension ($178 million) and the Regional Connector ($33 million), as per the results of a federally-required risk management process.
Another expense involves the construction of new carpool/congestion pricing lanes on the 5 freeway in the Santa Clarita area. In order to accelerate construction of the project and finish it by 2019, Metro is studying a potential public-private partnership. As part of that, Metro is also forecasting $410 million in accelerated financing costs to enable project to be completed earlier. With this new acceleration plan in place, the business case analysis for the go/no go decision on the PPP can now take place.