Hey let’s talk infrastructure!; HWR, Feb. 13

Things to read whilst transiting: Ever want to walk across Antarctica? Read this awesome New Yorker article first.

Art of Transit: 

Building a stronger America (Whitehouse.gov)

First, the release from President Donald Trump and the White House in the link above. The key fact: the plan calls for an investment of $1.5 trillion, including $200 billion in direct federal funding. Also worth mentioning is that the plan would seek to streamline the environmental process, which attentive Source readers know can gobble calendars in the same fashion Homer Simpson gobbles donuts.

And now the news story on the Trump plan:

Trump’s big infrastructure plan has a lot of detail on everything but how to pay for it (Washington Post) 

Key sentence: “The money would be doled out on a competitive basis, with awards that amount to up to 20 percent of a project’s cost, aides said.”

That’s an issue for Metro, which has relied heavily on the federal New Starts program to help pay for projects. Example: The second section of the Purple Line Extension has a budget of $2.53 billion, of which nearly $1.2 billion is coming from a federal grant. The first section of the project received a $1.25 billion grant; the budget is $3.15 billion. The Regional Connector received a $670 million federal grant — more than third of its budget.

To put it another way: that’s three grants totaling more than $3 billion from the feds, made possible because Metro had matching local dollars, courtesy of the sales tax measures approved by L.A. County residents. Bidding adieux to that kind of money would…what’s the emoji…?

Other reaction to the Trump plan from interested parties: 

L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti’s statement:

“Any federal plan must expand real dollars, and not increase the burden on local government to pick up the slack when Washington won’t lead. As chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Infrastructure Task Force, I will be advocating on Capitol Hill for a real plan, with real results, and a fair share from the federal government. They can’t count on our dollars if they aren’t matching them.”

The L.A. Times editorial page:

“The Measure M-funded public transit building boom in L.A. County relies on federal funding that would be slashed under the president’s infrastructure and budget proposals. The Purple Line subway to Westwood was slated to receive more than $1 billion, or roughly 45% of the total cost, from the federal government. Without that money, it will be extremely difficult to complete that project, as well as others, in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.”

Metro spokesperson’s take, via Politico:

“One transit official, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the proposal would improve once the Congress began negotiating with the White House.

‘What we see here is a way to look at how we enhance infrastructure across the board, and across America,” said Pauletta Tonilas, spokeswoman for LA Metro, which is relying on federal funding to build out the city’s subway system. “And somewhere in the middle we will come to a funding plan that tries to meet all needs as best as we can.'”

As with anything of this size, there’s already considerable pushback in Congress and the plan may have trouble advancing. In the meantime, Yonah predicts:

2 replies

  1. So Metro still waiting for a federal grant for purple phase 3? Would Measure M funds be reshuffled to complete this by 2028 without that federal portion?

    If not, looks like a decade with a new terminus in Century City.