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Presidential Plan Includes $1.6B for Transit Construction

Tue February 26, 2008 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Having delivered nearly $9 billion in federal funding for 22 major transit projects since he took office in 2001, President Bush Feb. 5 recommended a $1.62 billion funding package for fiscal year 2009 that includes new projects in nine cities across the nation. This New Starts amount is part of a total public transportation budget proposal of $10.1 billion, a 6.8 percent increase over fiscal year 2008.

“Well planned, cost-effective transit is crucial to relieving congestion, protecting the environment and reducing dependence on foreign oil,” said Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.

The budget proposes $200 million in funding for nine new projects in the “Small Starts” program, and four existing small starts projects in the following cities: Flagstaff, Ariz.; San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside County and Livermore-Amador, Calif.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Fitchburg, Mass.; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland and Springfield, Ore.; and two projects in King County, Wash. The Small Starts program was created under the most recent surface transportation authorization bill so that smaller transit projects would not have to compete with larger projects for federal funding.

The spending plan also recommends $160 million for two larger construction projects, Denver’s West Corridor Light Rail and Seattle’s University Link, which are currently pending under the Federal Transit Administration’s major capital funding program known as “New Starts.” Additionally, $1.14 billion is proposed for 15 other projects that have active long-term commitments for federal funding, and are already under construction: Chicago, Ill.; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Minneapolis-Big Lake, Minn.; Hudson-Bergen, N.J.; New York, N.Y. {2}; Norfolk, Va.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Washington, DC; Seattle, Wash., and Weber County-Salt Lake City, Utah.

“We are particularly enthusiastic about the projects that we have recommended for funding this year,” said FTA Administrator James S. Simpson. “When you consider the projects we have recommended for funding on a cost-per-mi. basis, we are putting tax dollars where they will move the greatest number of people so taxpayers get a good return on their investment.”

The ratings and recommendations are part of the Federal Transit Administration’s Annual Report on Funding Recommendations for New and Small Starts for Fiscal Year 2009. The report proposes $60 million in funding for Denver’s West Corridor Light Rail, a 12-station light rail extension that begins at the existing Auraria Station in downtown Denver and extends 12.1 mi. (1.9 km) west, parallel to West 6th Avenue, which carries the second highest traffic volume in the region.

Funding of $100 million also is proposed for Seattle’s University Link, which will serve the most densely developed residential and employment area in the Central Puget Sound region and the state of Washington.

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