June 11, 2021
The U.S. Department of Transportation reported on June 11 that 22 transit projects in the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program will receive a total of $250 million in American Rescue Plan funding allocations; four are rail-related and will receive a total of $64.9 million.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021—signed into law on March 11 by President Biden—specified that $250 million in pandemic-relief funding could be distributed to Small Starts projects in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) CIG program. Those projects must have previously received a CIG funding allocation or must be in the Project Development phase, according to USDOT. The Act also noted that funding “does not count toward statutory Federal or CIG funding limitations, but rather is meant to assist project sponsors with their local match.”
The funds will go toward 18 bus rapid transit ($185.1 million) and four light rail/streetcar ($64.9 million) projects.
The three rail-related Small Starts Projects under construction are:
• Valley Metro’s Tempe Streetcar project (Tempe, Ariz.): Receiving $17.4 million for a three-mile streetcar line with 14 stations and six vehicles that will connect downtown Tempe, Arizona State University and the employment corridor of Rio Salado Parkway, which connects existing light rail serving Phoenix, Mesa and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
• Charlotte Area Transit System’s (CATS) CityLYNX Gold Line Streetcar Phase II project (Charlotte, N.C.): Receiving $11.1 million for a 2.5-mile extension west from the Charlotte Transportation Center to the campus of Johnson C. Smith University and east from the Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center to the Sunnyside neighborhood.
• Sound Transit’s Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension project (Tacoma, Wash.): Receiving $20.7 million for a 2.4-mile light rail line that will run along Commerce Street and Stadium Way to the Hilltop District.
The rail-related Small Starts Project in the development phase is:
• Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon’s (TriMet) MAX Red Line Extension and Reliability Improvements project (Portland, Ore.): Receiving $15.7 million for a 7.8-mile extension of the MAX Red Line from Beaverton Transit Center to Downtown Hillsboro. The project also “will increase the reliability of the MAX light rail system between Portland International Airport and Beaverton Transit Center.”
“This funding will help numerous communities across the country continue to protect jobs and advance important transit projects that otherwise might have been canceled or delayed due to the pandemic,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, whom the Senate confirmed this week to serve as FTA leader. “These federal funding allocations are so important for transit agencies struggling in the wake of COVID-19.”