San Diegans could soon take the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Blue Line further north, thanks to a newly secured federal grant helping fund the project.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) signed a federal grant agreement with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) on Wednesday pledging $1.04 billion to the city’s Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project.
The $2.17 billion project will extend the MTS Blue Line nearly 11 miles from Old Town to the Westfield UTC shopping center. Projected stops in between include Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive, Balboa Avenue, Nobel Drive, the VA Medical Center on Ja Jolla Drive, UC San Diego, Voigt Drive and Executive Drive.
The Blue Line currently runs from San Ysidro to the downtown Santa Fe Depot.
“FTA is proud to partner with San Diego to bring new transit options to this growing region,” said FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers. “With the population along the Mid-Coast corridor expected to grow nearly 20 percent in the coming decades, this trolley extension will offer a much-needed alternative to traffic congestion in the years ahead.”
The FTA grant comes by way of its Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program, the federal government’s primary grant program for funding major capital investments.
The official signing of the grant has made $100 million immediately available to SANDAG while the rest of the funding is scheduled to come in payments over the next 10 years, subject to annual Congressional approval.
The rest of the funds needed for the project will come from TransNet, the countywide half-cent sale tax increase dedicated to improving regional transportation. According to TransNet, funds from the tax hike will also support operation of the Mid-Coast Corridor Transit Project through 2048.
“The Obama Administration is committed to investing in transportation projects that improve mobility and provide ladders of opportunity for residents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “San Diego’s Trolley extension will do just that by helping thousands of transit riders to access employment, education, healthcare and other important services.”
According to SANDAG, the extension project will produce more than 14,000 new local jobs and will support more than 325,000 jobs once it is completed.
Pre-construction preparation has already begun, and primary construction is expected to begin in October. Service on the new extended line is expected to open in 2021.