TriMet issued a press release today noting that the FTA has expressed strong support for the Milwaukie Light Rail project, but only committed to a 50% match, rather than 60% as has been customary in the past for light rail projects in our region.
The reasons listed were:
- TA New Starts share could be no greater than 50 percent for a project over $1 billion
- There is tremendous demand for the New Starts program, and FTA did not want to create a precedent for a federal share above 50 percent for a project over $1 billion
- The US Department of Transportation’s budget has not increased and the Transportation Reauthorization Bill is not moving forward
- There is no anticipated increase in most domestic spending, as directed by President Obama
TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane is quoted in the press release as saying “Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working with our project partners to recalibrate the project to fit within these new funding parameters”.
I wonder if this recalibration might also be an opportunity to reassess the idea of bonding future operating revenue to pay for capital construction?