U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced an agreement to provide $942.2 million from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to extend San Francisco's Third Street light rail system through the city's busy Chinatown neighborhood, bringing light rail back to the heavily transit-dependent Third Street corridor for the first time in 50 years.
Secretary LaHood was joined at an official grant signing ceremony by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff and state and local officials.
"San Francisco's light rail system already plays a vital role in connecting hard-working families, seniors, and visitors with the city's major employment and medical centers, colleges, and recreational facilities," said Secretary LaHood. "This project to extend the line even further reflects the Obama Administration's commitment to making smart investments in our nation's transit infrastructure."
The new T-Third Light Rail extension, part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's (MTA) Central Subway project, will run from the downtown business district north to Chinatown along one of the city's most heavily-traveled corridors. Once completed, it will improve transit options between the Financial District and Union Square, while connecting Chinatown with existing Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail service, Caltrain and other transportation services. According to the MTA, project construction is expected to create about 1,000 jobs by the end of this year, with many more jobs to follow as tunnel construction gets under way in 2013.
"This project will bring much-needed relief to tens of thousands of riders who have had to wait in long lines and squeeze onto over-crowded buses in one of the most densely populated urban communities in the country," said Administrator Rogoff. "It will also provide a lifeline to many low-income residents who do not own cars, and are looking for an affordable and efficient route into the downtown business district and beyond."
Federal funding for the project is provided to the San Francisco MTA through FTA's Capital Investment Program (New Starts). The $1.6 billion project will extend Muni light rail service by 1.7 miles of the T-Third line from the 4th Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown and includes construction of four new stations, three of them underground. The first phase of the T-Third Street light rail line went into service in 2007. Once the extension opens, the projected ridership along the entire 6.8-mile T-Third line is estimated to be 43,700 daily boardings per weekday, the highest ridership in the system.