Metro this week submitted a funding application package for three key light rail projects to compete for $1.9 billion in supplemental funding from the State of California.
The funding would come from the state’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, also known as TIRCP. The State is expected to announce project awards on January 31, 2023.
This round of funding from the TIRCP was made possible by last year’s state budget surplus and is a unique opportunity for Metro to add funding – and preserve funding commitments – for these vital projects.
The Metro Board unanimously voted to submit an application to the State for:
•$600 million for the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor, a nine-mile light rail line that will run between the G (Orange) Line’s Van Nuys Station and the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station.
•$798 million for the L (Gold) Line Foothill Extension Project in the San Gabriel Valley between the future Pomona Station and the city of Montclair. An extension of the L Line between Azusa and Pomona is currently under construction.
•$500 million for the West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor, a 19.3-mile light rail line between Artesia and the cities and communities of Southeast L.A. County and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
With dozens of projects in Metro’s planning pipeline, agency staff and the Metro Board selected these projects because they best meet the TIRCP qualifying criteria: state of project readiness; the projects improve transit inequities in vulnerable communities; and the projects already have significant federal and/or local funds committed.
Securing the TIRCP funds would help Metro keep other state and federal funds that have been committed to these projects. Securing $909 million in federal funds for the East San Fernando Valley project, for example, is contingent on securing state funds.
The TIRCP funding would supplement local funding for these projects from the Measures R and M local sales taxes approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 and 2016, respectively. Metro has a strong track record of winning grants – including $1.5 billion in state grants for 11 projects between 2015 and 2021, more than $4 billion to build the Purple (D Line) Extension of the subway now under construction and $670 million for the Regional Connector rail tunnel in downtown L.A. that will open next year and will link the A (Blue), E (Expo) and L Lines.
As part of last Thursday’s Board meeting, Metro staff was directed to bring a funding plan to the Metro Board in February on strategies to fill any remaining funding gaps for these projects.
“These are transformational projects that will bring faster, more frequent transit and better mobility to important areas of Los Angeles County that are long overdue to receive rail projects,” said Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “These projects will also help complete the Metro transit network with better connections to local buses, Metrolink regional rail, jobs, schools and other important destinations.”
“It’s important that Metro capitalize on this rare funding opportunity,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Kathryn Barger. “I believe this package of projects will provide significant transportation benefits for our county residents. I look forward to continuing our strong funding partnership with the state.”
“These critically important projects will be transformational for Southern California and should be high priorities for this State funding,” said Los Angeles City Council President and Metro Board Member Paul Krekorian. “TIRCP funding for the shovel-ready East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Project alone will leverage nearly $1 billion in federal support. Moreover, this project will service over 30,000 passengers a day in an area that is disadvantaged and underserved, and it will undoubtedly be an impetus for significant economic opportunity. The two million people of the San Fernando Valley, who have virtually no access to Metro rail transit, deserve this state investment in their future.”
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to secure hundreds of millions in state funding for projects that serve the entire region – and this action demonstrates Metro’s commitment to improving transportation for all residents,” said Hilda L. Solis, Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member. “With partnerships from every subregion in the county, Metro is poised to secure critical dollars that will close the gap on major projects like the Gold Line Foothill Extension and bring projects like the Gold Line Eastside Extension to fruition.”
“Our transit dependent communities in Southeast L.A. deserve high-quality transit, which the West Santa Ana Branch will finally provide, once and for all,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Janice Hahn. “Funding from this program would be a significant down-payment toward finally, fully funding this investment in communities for which it is long overdue.”
“I am proud to be part of the Metro board representing the San Gabriel Valley region and to advocate for the Foothill Gold Line that is actively being built as we speak,” said Pomona Mayor and Metro Board Member Tim Sandoval. “Under the leadership of Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, Metro has done an excellent job to elevate all of the capital projects of significance like East San Fernando Light Rail, Foothill Gold Line to Montclair, and the West Santa Ana Light Rail Project. The application truly represents the needs of all pockets of L.A. County and all residents will benefit from these projects. I also want to highlight that the application seeks the full funding that Foothill Gold Line needs, the full $798 million, to take it to Montclair. The state’s investment on this project will interconnect two counties, L.A. to San Bernardino. As a result, we can realize the goals of reducing congestion and improving air quality for Southern California.”
“I am pleased that the Metro Board showed its strong support for projects that will serve residents’ transportation needs throughout the county,” said Metro Board Member and City of Whittier Council Member Fernando Dutra. “We must continue our efforts to secure additional TIRCP funds authorized by the State Legislature. I look forward to partnering with our cities and state legislators until we secure full funding for all of Metro’s priorities.”
“The package in Metro’s proposal will give millions more people access to our fast and affordable Metro rail network,” said Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of Metro. “The broad support shown from the community demonstrate how much L.A. County residents want access to high quality rail transit in their community. These projects are excellent candidates for the TIRCP grant program, and I thank the Board for its unanimous vote to move forward.”