LA Metro takes Pete Buttigieg for a spin, hoping the feds donate infrastructure dollars – Pasadena Star News

On Friday, Los Angeles County transportation officials courted U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in hopes that a VIP ride on a new 8.5-mile rail line in South Los Angeles on would persuade to loosen the purse strings on federal infrastructure dollars.

Not only is Buttigieg the White House transportation chief, but President Joe Biden has tasked him with spending the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that took effect in November. LA Metro officials hoped the secretary’s visit would result in more federal money for severely underfunded rail, bus and highway projects plagued by inflation and supply chain problems. supply.

  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, left, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks to the media during a tour of Expo/Crenshaw Station, part of Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Transit project in Los Angeles, Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, center, with Los...

    U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, center, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, and Congresswoman Karen Bass as they tour the Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Expo/Crenshaw Station in Los Angeles on Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg at Expo/Crenshaw Station...

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the Expo/Crenshaw station part of Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Transit project in Los Angeles on Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Unsurprisingly, Buttigieg played his cards close to the waistcoat when reporters asked him if the feds would send money to help the LA Metro build new subways, streetcar lines and sports facilities adjacent to public transit. common in time for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

On the Sepulveda Pass Transit Project, expected to cost between $16 billion and $18 billion for an underfunded subway, Buttigieg deflected the question of whether he envisioned a subway through the Santa Monica Mountains or a gliding monorail over- above commuters on the 405 and 101 freeways, was worthy of Washington DC’s green infrastructure funding

“I can’t weigh in on any particular project until it officially comes to us,” he said, after riding with other elected officials on the Crenshaw/LAX subway/light rail line not yet open from Martin Luther King Jr. Station to Expo/Crenshaw Station.

“We’re always impressed to see the imagination and hard work that goes into creating great options that get people where they need to be,” he said.

Los Angeles Mayor and LA Metro Board Member Eric Garcetti, standing next to him, quickly called out, “It’s going to happen,” to the secretary’s surprise.

Later, in an interview, Garcetti said that the Sepulveda Pass project was the main reason he pushed so hard for the passage of the recent half-cent transport tax, the M measure. The measure promised that the sales tax money would pay for the project. Metro has a funding budget of about $7.5 billion for the project, most of which is locally sourced.

Inflation, the higher cost of steel, railcars, and supply chain disruptions have driven up the cost of many rail projects, including the Sepulveda Pass project. If it doesn’t get federal funding, it won’t be built by the 2028 Olympics, but instead will have a completion range of 2032 to 2035, according to Metro estimates.

“That’s the kind of thing, with the high ridership of the project, that’s exactly what the authorities are looking for,” Garcetti said. “It will go from dream to reality.”

By comparison, LA Metro has spent $2 billion on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit project, an 8.5-mile subway/light rail line that will stretch from the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw Boulevards to Aviation Station. /LAX of the Metro Green Line. This does not include an elevated automated people mover from Crenshaw’s 96th Street station carrying passengers to and from LAX.

Crenshaw Line “is the biggest transportation dollar investment in South Los Angeles in at least two decades,” said LA Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.

Buttigieg said he was impressed with the Crenshaw line, admired the community involvement, and said it was a model he would bring back to Washington. When asked if he would ride it when it opens to the public later this year, he said yes.

“I wouldn’t like anything more to be able to come from the airport,” he said of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2023-2024.

Metro has prioritized four major projects for federal funds, according to Michael Turner, assistant general manager. They are:

  • Sepulveda Transit Corridor, connecting the Westside of Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley with a subway line or monorail under or over the 405 and 101 freeways.
  • West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor, a 19-mile light rail line connecting southeast Los Angeles County to downtown LA This $8.5 billion project would link Artesia, Cerritos, Bellflower, Paramount , Downey, South Gate, Cudahy, Bell, Huntington Park, Vernon and unincorporated Florence-Firestone in downtown LA
  • the $1 billion Line C (Green Line) light rail extension from Redondo Beach to Torrance; plus money for repairs to existing rail lines, including line rehabilitation.
  • L Line (Gold Line) Eastside Extension Phase 2, from the eastern terminus in East LA along Atlantic Boulevard terminating at Lambert Road in Whittier, also serving Commerce, Montebello, Pico Rivera and Santa Fe Springs.

Some projects are not eligible for federal funds. Why? Because the environmental review was done to satisfy state requirements, not federal law, Turner explained.

The L (Gold Line) Foothill Line extension, approximately 3 miles from Pomona to Claremont and Montclair in San Bernardino County, requires $748 million to complete. It has environmental approval through the California Environmental Quality Act. But a new federal environmental review would be needed to put it on the table of federal infrastructure investments, Turner said.

“He can’t get federal dollars,” Turner said, saying the developers are asking for state funding.

He also said the San Fernando Valley’s first light rail project could be a candidate for federal funding, although it is not among the top four. He said the West Santa Ana branch would compete well for federal funds because it would serve passengers with low incomes and often without cars.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, left, with California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis as they tour the Metro's Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Expo/Crenshaw Station in Los Angeles on Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, left, with California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis as they tour the Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project Expo/Crenshaw Station in Los Angeles on Friday, July 8, 2022. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Some transportation watchers worry that the infrastructure law favors widening highways and freeways over public transit. They say this will lead to more congestion and worsening air pollution.

The Infrastructure Act authorizes about $108 billion for public transportation, including $91 billion in nationally guaranteed funding. But it provides $350 billion for road programs, spread over a five-year period, fiscal years 2022 to 2026.

Based on DOT formulas on the department’s website for the new appropriations law, California can expect to get about $10.3 billion over five years to improve public transportation options — a 37% increase. compared to 2021.

The law places a strong emphasis on repairing bridges. In California, there are 1,536 bridges in poor condition. The federal DOT estimates the state will receive $28.2 billion for highways and bridges over five years.

Buttigieg said public transit should be built to be clean, safe and convenient, and he thinks that can work even in car-centric Los Angeles County. “Part of the future is to make public transit the mode of choice, whether you have a car or not. It’s more efficient and often economically smarter,” he said.

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