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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) yesterday signed agreements that will provide a $670 million federal grant and a $160 million federally backed loan for the Regional Connector light-rail project.The agreements clear the way for construction to begin this year on the $1.9-mile underground light-rail line in downtown Los Angeles that will connect the existing Blue, Expo and Gold lines with track between 7th/Metro Center and Little Tokyo, LACMTA officials said in a post on the agency's website. The FTA grant also includes four new light-rail vehicles to augment the existing fleet. The project will reconfigure Metro's three existing LRT 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."The Regional Connector will improve the quality of L.A.'s light-rail service by offering a one-seat ride that cuts travel times from Long Beach to Azusa and from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to Santa Monica," said FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan in a press release.LACMTA estimates the Regional Connector will open in 2020 and initially handle 60,000 trips or more each weekday. In addition to the $670 million that FTA has committed to the project through its Capital Investment Grant (New Starts) Program, LACMTA will receive $64 million in other U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) funds and a loan of up to $160 million from the USDOT's Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovative Action (TIFIA) loan program, FTA officials said.The remainder of the roughly $1.4 billion project will be funded with state and local resources.
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