Friday, August 29, 2008

Roger Snoble is Right

Let's put aside for a second whether we think the Gold Line project is a good idea or not. Recent postings on the Bottleneck Blog state that Rep. David Drier has asked LACMTA chief Roger Snoble for $80 million in order to put the line into the New Starts pipeline to get a $320 match. Snoble wrote back saying they were not going to commit money because there was no way that was going to happen any time soon. He's right.
It is likely to be many years at best before the Foothill project completes the lengthy and rigorous New Starts process, assuming the FTA allows the project to remain under consideration.
The FTA process for most places recently has taken 10 years from first application. Lines such as Charlotte, Phoenix, Seattle , and Oceanside (Links to New Starts Report Dates) which are just opening started planning thier lines in the end of the last decade. So LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich writes back saying the DOT and Ma Peters (Thanks Ryan) told him differently. (which makes me laugh as it should any of you all who have watched the process of the FTA over the last few years from your own experience as well as on this blog) Here's his comment:
The information in your letter to Congressman David Dreier is not consistent with what I was told last month when I was in Washington D.C. meeting with the Secretary of Transportation and the Chief Counsel of the Federal Transit Administration. Both made it quite clear that the reason the Gold Line Foothill Extension project has not been able to progress under the FTA’s “New Starts” program was due to the MTA’s failure to prioritize the project as part of its long-term project list.
When Mary Peters tells you something about transit and the FTA it's kind of common knowledge now that you can't believe a thing she says. That's a great excuse they give though. Not only will the Gold Line be hard to fund through the federal process that favors BRT, it is impossible they will be able to get $320 million out of the deal. In the history of new starts, the only cities that got 80% of thier project costs paid for were back in the late 90s. 80% is what the match is supposed to be and what highways get, but the New Starts program is underfunded. I dare anyone however to find a project that gets more that 50% in the most recent new starts list. Recently its been more like 50% or for example Salt Lake City signed an MOU to fund 4 lines at 20% federal match.

So sorry Mike, if you andRep. Drier were actually paying attention to what is happening at the FTA in Washington, you would know that what you're looking to do is insane and not even the most powerful congressional teams have been able to get any more without an earmark. Mr. Snoble is correct in saying if you want the project built sooner, its better to go local, at least until the next transportation bill gets written.


crzwdjk said...

At least part of the Gold Line extension will eventually get built, up to Irwindale. The MTA desperately needs more yard space for their trains. The Gold Line yard will be at capacity with the Eastside extension, the Expo Line just with Phase 1 will take all the remaining capacity in the Blue Line Yard. The ridership brought by Expo Phase 2 and the Downtown Connector will mean there's nowhere to store the trains, and the Irwindale Yard will be the only option.

Morgan Wick said...

This almost reads like a Gold Line opponent should actually root for it to get the $80 million if McCain is elected, to give it false hope that can string it along so there's more time to kill it!

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Perhaps you're on to something Morgan.

Anonymous said...

You are 100% right. For years the San Gabriel Valley folks ave een makng excessive claims about ter project, sndely attack any criticism and have een engaged in station devleopment planning. Now their house of cards and they contine try to use smoke ad mrror to evade the only one at fault: themselves.