Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Portland Light Rail Funding

It would appear that transit funding has been shook up a bit in light rail capital of the US Portland. TriMet, Portland's transit agency, has opened up three new light rail lines over the last decade and has relied on a funding formula of 60% from the federal government. The region had counted on the same funding formula for their proposed 12km Portland-Milwaukie light rail line, but only received 50% funding. According to an article in DJC Oregon:
The 7.3-mile light rail project, as planned, would cost $1.47 billion. The FTA will pay $735.8 million of that amount. The light rail line would run through Portland State University, the South Waterfront, Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County and would include a bridge over the Willamette River.

The FTA also cited increased demands from its New Start program, which would fund the project, as well as a fixed budget.

“While the good news is they’ve committed on the other side, we have less money for the project,” said TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch. “We’ll have to recalibrate the project to some degree.”

The Portland-Milwaukie project is the first Portland-area project to exceed a cost of $1 billion, Fetsch said. The project is more expensive than previous projects, Fetsch said, in part because it includes construction of a $135 million bridge and because the route goes through established neighborhoods, which makes acquisitions costs higher.
It is interesting to note that this is the first light rail project to cost over $1 billion in Metro Portland which would speak to the cost effectiveness of light rail. Portland has 84.3km of light rail compared to Metro Vancouver's 68.7km of SkyTrain. One of the interesting parts of the proposed project is a transit bridge that would accommodate bikes, pedestrians, streetcar, light rail, and buses only over the Willamette River.

From TriMet

It will be interesting to see how TriMet comes up with the missing $147m of funding for this project.

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