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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Five transit agency boards carry out busy agendas

Last week, Bay Area Rapid Transit’s board awarded the Flatiron/Parsons joint venture a design/build contract for the $492 million, 3.2-mile automated people mover (APM) project. The board also awarded Doppelmayr Cable Car Inc. a contract to operate and maintain the APM connector. To be partially funded by $70 million in federal stimulus dollars, the project is expected to start in mid-2010 and conclude three-and-one-half years later. The APM connector will replace AirBART buses and operate on a fixed, elevated electric guideway.

Also in California, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LACMTA) board approved light rail as the locally preferred alternative for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor project. The $1.3 billion project calls for building an 8.5-mile light-rail line from the Metro Green Line Aviation Station to the Expo Line, which is under construction. A final environment impact study could be completed by 2010’s end with the line opening in 2018, according to LACMTA.
The board also approved a plan to conduct the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor alternative analysis study of a proposed Metro Green Line extension to the planned Torrance Regional Transit Center. The extension would involve the construction of light-rail tracks or the use of an existing 26-mile freight-rail corridor. LACMTA’s board approved a $5 million contract option with STV Inc. to prepare a draft environmental impact report and conduct a community outreach program.

In Austin, Texas, Capital Metro's board approved a $61 million contract with Herzog Transit Services Inc. to operate the MetroRail system and coordinate maintenance for the Giddings-to-Llano line for five years, and a $33.9 million contract with the Watco Cos. Inc. to operate the agency’s freight-rail line for five years. Herzog currently operates the Trinity Railway Express in Dallas/Fort Worth, Rail Runner in Albuquerque, N.M., Altamont Commuter Express in Stockton, Calif., and Coaster in Oceanside, Calif. Watco has been operating the freight-rail line since October 2007.

Meanwhile, Sound Transit’s board unanimously elected Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon chairman for a two-year term beginning in 2010. He will succeed Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, whose two-year term ends Dec. 31. The board also unanimously elected Lakewood City Council Member Claudia Thomas and Issaquah City Council Deputy President Fred Butler as vice chairs.

Finally, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s (PANYNJ) board approved a $6.3 billion 2010 budget that includes $3.1 billion for capital expenditures, $2.5 billion for operating expenses and $689 million for debt service. The budget calls for reducing headcount by 150 — bringing staffing levels to 6,977, the lowest point in 40 years — cutting overtime by 20 percent and reducing the use of outside consultants by 32 percent. The spending plan will enable PANYNJ to continue developing the World Trade Center site, advance the ARC Tunnel project and pursue the PATH modernization program, which calls for replacing the 340-car fleet and installing a new signal system.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/14/2009