Bond funds allotted for transit projects 

BART, Muni and Caltrain could be in line to collect more than $350 million for infrastructure improvements this year as part of a bond measure passed by voters in 2008 for the state’s high-speed rail project.

As a way to improve access between urban transit lines and the proposed high-speed rail route, $760 million of the $9.95 billion bond has been set aside for local agencies in California. Of that total, $256 million has been earmarked for BART, $61 million for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, and $41 million for Caltrain.

BART could use the funding for its $150 million rail-replacement program, along with the agency’s plan to extend service into Silicon Valley. Muni’s allocation would go toward improving rail infrastructure, and Caltrain’s funding would be dedicated to the ongoing process of electrifying its railway.

It’s unlikely the money will be able to go toward balancing operating budgets — BART and the SFMTA are facing significant deficits — but the cash infusion would help shore up longer-term plans. Under its current five-year capital improvement plan, the SFMTA faces a $1.7 billion shortfall, and BART has a 25-year projected capital shortfall of $7.5 billion.

Even though the allocations were based on a formula designed by the California Transportation Commission, a state body, each agency must submit applications for the funding by Monday — and the money is far from secure.
The state agency is scheduled to vote on the funding allocation in May, but like most state matters, when and how much of the money is delivered will depend on California’s volatile budget situation.

Even if the state sells the bonds this summer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would still have the final say on how much to appropriate to each agency, according to Maura Twomey, deputy director of the California Transportation Commission.

Due to the uncertainty, most of the agencies are taking a cautious approach to the funding situation. In a presentation to its board of directors Thursday, BART staff submitted a document declaring that “cash flow of the funds is dynamic and dependent upon the state’s fiscal situations, and thus requires flexibility for developing programs to match” the ­allocations.

Approved by voters in 2008, Proposition 1A established a $9.95 billion bond measure for operations of, and related to, high-speed rail, which is envisioned to one day bring passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 2½ hours.

 

Agency   
Allocation
BART $256.6 million
SFMTA $61.3 million
Caltrain $41.0 million
VTA $26.4 million
ACE $14.9 million


Source: California Transportation Commission

 

wreisman@sfexminer.com

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