Metro (Sort Of) Decides on Its Stimulus List

2_26_09_metro.jpgToday, the Metro Board of Directors passed a list of projects which it will use to apply for stimulus funds as they become available.  Their list, available at the end of this document, is actually quite a bit greener than one might expect with pages of bicycle, pedestrian and transit projects dominating the document and only a few highway expansion projects.  While not perfect, and there’s certainly no talk of closing Broadway to cars, it is a clear improvement from the list that was submitted by the city at the end of December of last year.  Metro is expecting between $850 million and $950 million from the stimulus for L.A. County.

However, we are talking about the Metro Board of Directors so nothing is ever easy.  A debate over whether to include Phase I of Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension in the list of projects ensued.  Some board members felt including them was a mistake because there is pretty clear language in the stimulus that any project receiving funds would have NEPA clearance, and neither project does.  Eventually, the Board decided to include the projects on their wish list, but with the caveat that if the federal government announces guidelines that would preclude the project, then they can change the list.  The final list of projects isn’t due for another couple of months.

Other highlights from the discussion on came during the public comment.  Local transit agencies supported Metro’s proposal to allocate $215 million to $315 million to local agencies.  The Bus Rider’s Union brought a small series of speakers to ask that more funds be used to expand the bus fleet, even though Metro is hoping to see $180 million in funds to replace the bus fleet.  Erin Steva, a local advocate for CALPIRG suggested that a Fix-it-First approach could use federal funds to for repair projects that are paid for by operating funds thus allowing Metro to lower its operating budget in advance of the state cuts.  Polling reveals that nationwide, people approve of CALPIRG’s approach to spending stimulus funds.

Photo: Stuck in Suburbia/Flickr

  • Wow. These guys are so clueless they don’t know that Expo Phase 1 has NEPA clearance.

  • (Did Damien Newton mean Phase 2?)

  • No, I meant Phase I. Phase II isn’t close to being “Shovel Ready.” Let me dig around on this, it is confusing to follow the meeting on the phone and I have been sick this week so I might have missed something in the reasoning why they were debating

    I just talked with Metro PR Staff who was unfortunately heading into a meeting until a little later today…I’ll get to the bottom of this. Regardless, either way, the important thing is Metro is asking $150 million for each project, while reserving the right to change their project list if the final federal rules would preclude these projects…

  • Ah, perhaps part of the confusion is since Expo is being constructed through the Authority, which has the lead on clearing etc. BTW, it couldn’t be Phase II since that isn’t being federally cleared.

    I hope all the local cities are up to handling the onerous strings attached to federal funds. Maybe that is why as I understand it the discussion at the Board included how to handle swaps among local jurisdictions of stimulus funds for future local return monies from the sales taxes A/C/R.

  • Lead agency for state environmental clearance for Expo Line 1 and 2 remains MTA. Lead agency for federal environmental clearance for Expo Phase 1 remains FTA.

    Expo Phase 2 has no federal lead since it’s solely a CEQA document.

  • anon

    I’ve heard before that Expo phase 1 was not getting federal funds, and did not file the federal NEPA docs. This was being discussed b/c apparently it is creating problems for the bike path which is using fed dollars.

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