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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined local officials yesterday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (LACMTA) Regional Connector light-rail segment.The two-mile segment will connect three existing transit lines in downtown Los Angeles, enabling passengers to take a one-seat ride across the county, U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and LACMTA officials said in a press release.The $1.4 billion project received a $670 million full funding grant agreement through the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) New Starts grant program, as well as a loan of up to $160 million from USDOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program and $64 million in other funds.LACMTA has begun work on the underground connection between the existing Metro Gold Line in Little Tokyo and the Exposition and Blue light-rail lines, which currently terminate at Flower and 7th streets. The project also includes four new light-rail vehicles to augment the existing fleet. The project will reconfigure Metro's three existing light-rail lines into two lines, one primarily running north to south, and one east to west.The project reconfiguration will eliminate the need for riders to make cumbersome transfers from light rail to the Metro Red or Purple Line subway system, and then back onto light rail to reach their destinations, LACMTA officials said.Meanwhile, Foxx was in Salt Lake County, Utah, on Monday to help Utah Transit Authority (UTA) officials kick off the start of the agency's first transit-oriented development. The East Village development will be built next to the 10000 South TRAX station in a partnership between the authority and Hamilton Partners, UTA officials said in a press release.The mixed-use development began with groundbreaking of the $46 million first phase, which will include a 271-unit apartment complex. Four additional phases are planned that will total over 1.4 million square feet of development.The FTA's joint development guidelines encourage the use of transit infrastructure to increase ridership and generate revenue for transit agencies, according to the USDOT. The UTA project is a "a catalytic event that creates a sense of place," Foxx said.
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