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St. Louis city officials earlier this week issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for analysis of alternatives to expand public transit service in the Northside-Southside Corridor.
The city is exploring possibilities for closing the existing funding gap to construct and operate a Northside-Southside light-rail expansion; and explore less capital-intensive options for high-capacity transit within the corridor.
City and Bi-State Development officials developed the scope of the work and will jointly manage the project to ensure that all operational knowledge of the existing MetroLink light-rail and MetroBus systems are incorporated, city officials said in a press release.
The analysis will be funded by up to $1.5 million from the economic development sales tax authorized by voters in 2017. Sixty percent of that sales tax has been reserved for future transit expansion since it was approved.
A previous study on public transit expansion in the corridor concluded that capital costs would range between $942 million and $947 million to construct a light-rail line, with an additional $24 million required for annual operations and maintenance.
The previous study also concluded that the current revenue stream from the 2017 tax, combined with the maximum 50 percent federal cost share for capital costs, would be inadequate to build, operate and maintain a new light-rail line, city officials said.
It also found that the project, as currently conceived, might fall below the eligibility threshold for federal funding based on scoring criteria that the Federal Transportation Administration applies to every project. Without a federal funding contribution, a light-rail expansion would not be financially feasible.