There are several key items in the 2015 fiscal spending bill recently approved by Congress that will help LA County boost its transportation infrastructure – as well as create jobs.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (New Starts) – $200 Million
The Capital Investment Grant level included in H.R. 83 is $2.1 billion, which provides a sufficient level of funding for the FTA to award Metro’s two Full Funding Grant Agreement Projects (Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension-Segment 1) their annual allocation of $100 million each for Federal Fiscal Year 2015. Securing $200 million in New Starts funds in one Federal Fiscal Year is more than triple our historical average for this federal funding category.
Federal Local Hire Policy – America Fast Forward
Consistent with Metro’s Board approved federal legislative program, language that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Karen Bass to allow for local hiring for transportation projects using federal funds was included in H.R. 83. In September of 2011, our Board of Directors amended our America Fast Forward initiative to include reforming federal Local Hire policies as a major goal for our agency. To find a link to our Board Report on this subject, please click here. Metro is deeply appreciative of Representative Bass for her strong, thoughtful and consistent leadership on this issue. Following enactment of H.R. 83 into law, we will promptly follow up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to clearly and fully understand their interpretation of this change in federal Local Hire policy.
FTA Formula Grants
FTA Formula Grants are derived from the Highway Trust Fund’s Mass Transit Account and represent the largest account that FTA administers. Funding levels included in the appropriation bill for the Formula Grants are equal to the Fiscal Year 2014 levels and will provide $8.6 billion nationwide in Fiscal Year 2015.
Each year the U.S. Department of Transportation provides funding through the TIGER discretionary grant program to allow states, cities and transportation agencies to compete for funding innovative projects of regional and national significance. H.R. 83 includes $500 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2015, which is $50 million less than Fiscal Year 2014, but $400 million more than the original House appropriations bill provided. H.R. 83 also excludes language from the House version of the transportation spending bill that would have prohibited TIGER grant funding for transit projects.