UTA receives federal funding earlier than expected

Published: Monday, Dec. 27 2010 11:12 p.m. MST

WASHINGTON — The Federal Transit Administration announced Monday that it will advance a total of $182.4 million in New Starts funding to help with seven projects already under way in five states, including in Utah.

The state is expected to get more than $37 million for two separate projects.

"By making these payments now, we're not only fulfilling the federal government's commitment to these projects sooner, but we're also giving a well-timed boost to communities that have made an important investment in their transportation infrastructure," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a news release Monday.

The monies are being paid out earlier than originally expected because of unallocated, leftover funds in the FTA's fiscal year 2010 budget for new construction.

The Utah Transit Authority can now use the extra cash for other projects, including the West Valley and airport TRAX lines, FrontRunner extension to Provo and the planning of a Draper-Sandy TRAX route.

"These advance payments are deeply appreciated and come at a time when they can be the most helpful," said UTA General Manager Michael Allegra. "By freeing up local funds, it allows us to apply more resources toward completing our other rail projects."

More than $20 million is slated to help UTA pay for the 10.6-mile Mid-Jordan TRAX line, which will join the existing Sandy line at 6400 South, providing a direct connection to the Salt Lake City central business district, the University of Utah and other Wasatch destinations.

The line, which is slated to be completed in August 2011, is expected to carry 9,500 daily passengers by 2030, helping to reduce highway congestion and pollution. The project will cost a total of $535.4 million, with a federal New Starts share of $428.3 million committed to the project.

FrontRunner, which spans 44 miles and connects eight stations from Salt Lake City to Ogden, will get $16.5 million now, as part of New Starts expected contributions of $489.4 million for the $611.7 million project. The line currently has more than 5,100 daily riders and is expected to serve nearly 12,000 weekday riders by 2025.

Other projects receiving funding from the FTA include light-rail routes in Dallas, commuter rail and subway projects in New York City, train lines in Northern Virginia and light rail extensions in Seattle.

e-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

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