Crossing Fingers

Keep crossing fingers  by Sam the sham and the by Sam the Sham

Not much Foothill Extension news (minus a few editorials and a celebration) has made it into the papers since the LRTP was approved in October. With traditional news media historically reporting on the bad stuff, that’s a good thing. Unfortunately that gravy train stopped this week with a report that could potentially alter the Foothill Extension’s aggressive schedule to break ground in June 2010.

In a Los Angeles Times article on Tuesday, it was reported that the first phase of the Expo Line is facing a higher-than-expected price tag and a longer-than-expected delay in opening. How much higher and longer? How about $220 million in additional costs and a year away from its expected opening? With constant battles over every last cent of the funding pot, Metro definitely does not have spare change lying around to make up for the Expo Line’s budget deficit. According to the article, Metro could potentially consider an option where funds from other projects – namely the Foothill Extension and the Subway to the Sea – are dipped into to make the payments for the Expo Line Phase 1.

This possibly can or probably won’t develop into a concern for the residents waiting for those two projects, but right now no decision has been made and this commotion could really mean nothing. Some of you might be wondering why this would matter since the Metro Board of Directors put their legally-binding (figurative) stamp of approval on the Long Range Transportation Plan, which now allocates $851 million to construct the Foothill Extension, purchase rail cars, and build a maintenance yard. However, what isn’t placed into writing in the LRTP is anything that prohibits borrowing from one project to help pay for another, possibly delaying progress on the first – a scenario that could play out should Metro have no other alternative.

For now, keep those I Will Ride t-shirts clean and ready! We will let you know if they are needed.

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