This story originally ran on Streetsblog L.A.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was in Los Angeles this morning to announce $1.6 billion in federal funds for Metro to extend the Purple Line subway to Century City.
The federal funding includes a $1.187 billion Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant, a $307 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, and a $169 million grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. The total cost of the2.59-mile subway extension with stops planned in downtown Beverly Hills and Century City is $2.4 billion. The rest of the finding, $747 million, was allocated as part of a county-wide voter approved transportation sales tax increase in 2008.
The mood at this morning’s event was celebratory with a touch of bittersweetness. Local leaders expressed warm words for Foxx with some concerns for the future after his term ends with the inauguration of President Donald Trump later this month.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti remarked that Anthony Foxx is an “honorary Angeleno” for having so often visited L.A. to announce funding for new transit infrastructure construction.
L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl joked that “we’re going to cash the check really fast” before Trump takes his presidential oath of office on January 20. In theory and based on precedent, Trump should not get in the way of funding already granted by federal agencies. On the other hand, Congress is responsible for allocating these funds annually. While the Purple Line funding announced today is probably safe, federal transit funding availability for future projects in blue states may become more difficult with the current Republican majorities.
Metro is currently building the Purple Line subway extension phase one to La Cienega Boulevard. That 3.9-mile project includes three new stations expected to open in 2023.
Metro already has preliminary construction work underway for the subway to Century City. An obstacle that was recently mostly cleared was Beverly Hills’ lawsuit attempt to block the subway. In July, a judge ordered Metro to do additional environmental studies (a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement – SEIS) but left approvals in place that allow Metro to finalize federal funding. Metro’s SEIS is expected to be finalized this summer.
For Purple Line phase two construction, a contractor is expected to be approved by the Metro board later this month. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018 and will be completed no later than 2026. Metro CEO Phil Washington pledged to complete phases two and three before a possible 2024 Olympics. Washington and Foxx both expressed hope that funding would also soon be available for a third extension of the Purple Line, which would extend the line an additional 2.6 miles into Westwood and the V.A. Hospital. Construction on phase three, theoretically, could begin in 2019.