FEDERAL FUNDING to complete the troubled Los Angeles metro system could be lost within months unless the Metropolitan Transportation Authority moves quickly to sort out its internal affairs, city officials warned this week.
Contractors and consultants in the city are still reeling from the MTA board of directors' recent decision to suspend all work on three rail projects 'for at least six months' (NCE 22 January).
But according to MTA executive officer for regional transportation planning and development Jim De La Loza, central government could pull funding for a £1.25bn extension unless MTA quickly finds a way to take the project forward.
'We have to make sure that federal funds don't go away,' he warned, 'which means that we have to come up with a plan as soon as possible.'
The decision to suspend work was recommended by MTA chief executive officer James Burke. Having considered all other options, including revised route and programme options, he said: 'None would satisfy the requirement that the agency's financial and managerial problems be fully resolved before funding resumes.'
But while the MTA board plans to come up with new proposals within six months, de la Loza said the matter needed more urgent consideration if federal funding for the work was to be kept.
'There is now more competition for fewer dollars and the situation is not likely to get any better,' warned de la Loza. There were already many light rail schemes in the US, he added, which having just completed feasibility studies would soon be looking for funding.
LA has already spent £5bn on its underground system. And, confirmed de la Losa, pressure on city funding meant that even if the MTA got the go ahead to restart work, it was now seriously considering moving forward with just one scheme at a time.
However, design work on the suspended Red Line Eastside extension is now around 95% complete. Joint venture Jacobs/ Mott MacDonald-Hatch/ACG Environments, currently working on the North Hollywood extension, had already been confirmed as project manager for the scheme, although nothing had been signed.
Design of the halted Pasadena Blue Line is also around 90% complete and two major bridge structures on the route have already been built, along with other pre-contract works. One proposal to shorten the line has been vigorously opposed by the Pasadena City authority, which is now considering adding funding of its own to ensure the line is built.
Helena Russell in Los Angeles