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L.A. Purple Line to Push Farther West

(Photo by Jacob G.)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

L.A. Purple Line to Push Farther West
The “Subway to the Sea” may never reach the sea, but the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is steadily pushing it onward to Westwood. The latest move in that direction is the awarding of a $1.37 billion contract to Tutor Perini/O & G, a joint venture, for the construction of the second section of the Purple Line Extension project.

As reported in Railway Track & Structures, the second section will run 2.62 miles from Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards, the planned end of the extension’s first phase, to Century City, with an intermediate station at Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Under a federal funding agreement, the segment should be completed by 2026.

“[The] contract award to Tutor Perini brings us one step closer to fulfilling our promise to bring fast, reliable, high-capacity subway service to the Westside,” John Fasana, LACMTA board chair and Duarte City Council member, told RT&S. “We now have the funding in place and the contractor on board to expedite delivery of this high-priority, regionally beneficial transit project for Los Angeles County.”

Tutor Perini also built the second and third sections of the original Red Line subway from downtown L.A. to North Hollywood. The third section was completed six months ahead of schedule and under budget.

Colombian Government Funds Bogota Transit Projects
International Railway Journal reports that the government of Colombia has committed 15 trillion pesos ($5.1 billion U.S.) to fund transit improvements in the capital city of Bogota.

The largest share of this pot, 12.8 trillion pesos ($4.6 billion U.S.), will go toward the construction of the first phase of Line 1 of the Bogota metro, which will run 15 km (9.3 miles) from Portal Américas to Calle 6 in the city center. The metro is scheduled to enter service in 2022.

1.36 trillion pesos ($462.9 million U.S.) will help finance the 41-km (25.5-mile) RegioTram tram-train line, which will link Bogota’s Carrera Décima district with the outlying town of Facatativá, a journey that will take 45 minutes once the line enters service. The line, which will pass through Funza, Mosquera and Madrid, will be built by a public-private partnership.

An additional 600 billion pesos ($204.2 million U.S.) will go to expand the city’s TransMilenio bus rapid transit network.

Feds to Investigate Baltimore Red Line Cancellation
One of the last acts of President Barack Obama’s administration was a Jan. 20 announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation will launch an investigation to determine whether Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s cancellation of the Baltimore Red Line light-rail project violated federal civil rights law.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

According to an article in Streetsblog USA, the investigation comes in response to a complaint by the Baltimore chapters of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the ACLU. Baltimore officials had already sunk $230 million into planning for the $2.9 billion east-west rail line, which would have served heavily minority, low-income neighborhoods on Baltimore’s west side, when a newly elected Hogan canceled it and shifted its funding to highway projects in the rest of the state. In its place, Hogan gave Baltimore $135 million for a revamped bus network that will start service in June.

The complaint noted that 44 percent of the households the Red Line would have served don’t own cars and that their travel time to several major destinations would have been cut by up to 50 percent. Using the state’s model for plotting funding, a transportation economist hired by the groups found that the redirected funds benefited white Marylanders at black Baltimoreans’ expense.

Similar investigations in Los Angeles and Wisconsin led to a consent decree to improve bus service in Los Angeles County and a court ruling that required then Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson to set aside funds for a streetcar line in Milwaukee. An NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund representative told Streetsblog the group expects the investigation to proceed even with the change in administration.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.