Surface Infrastructure

Costs, Financing and Schedules for Large-Dollar Transportation Projects Gao ID: RCED-98-64 February 12, 1998

Increasing congestion, declining mobility, and deteriorating infrastructure are affecting surface transportation systems in many urban areas. In fiscal year 1998, the federal government will distribute nearly $26 billion to states and localities to build and repair surface transportation systems. This report reviews eight large-dollar transportation projects in six urban areas. GAO discusses the cost, financing, and schedules for completing these eight projects: the Bay Area Rapid Transit System's extension to the San Francisco Airport, Los Angeles' Red Line subway, Pittsburgh's airport busway, St. Louis MetroLink's extension, Salt Lake City's South Light Rail Transit Line, Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel, Salt Lake City's I-15 reconstruction, and the Alameda Corridor in Los Angeles.

GAO noted that: (1) in 1997, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system began construction on an 8-mile extension of its existing system to provide transit riders with direct service to the San Francisco National Airport; (2) the transit system will finance the $1.167 billion dollar project through contributions from federal, state, and local agencies; (3) the transit system expects the project to be completed in September 2001; (4) because of severe financial difficulties, in January 1998, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended construction for at least 6 months on two of the four remaining extensions of the Los Angeles Red Line subway; (5) the Port Authority of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, is currently building the three components of phase I of the Pittsburgh Airport Busway Project; (6) financing for the project appears sufficient because federal funds, covering 80 percent of the project's costs, are available to the project and state funds, covering the remaining 20 percent, are ensured through state transportation bonds; (7) the St. Louis MetroLink light rail system began operations in July 1993; (8) when completed in 2001, the 17-mile St. Clair County, Illinois, extension will be the first addition to the MetroLink system and will cost an estimated $339 million; (9) the Salt Lake City Light Rail Transit project is a 15-mile system that largely parallels Interstate 15, the major north-south highway through the Salt Lake City area, which is also undergoing major improvement; (10) construction began in 1977, and project officials expect the system will begin operations by March 2000--10 months ahead of schedule and well before the Winter Olympics open in Salt Lake City in 2002; (11) the Central Artery/Tunnel project in Boston is one of the most expensive and complex federally assisted highway projects ever undertaken; (12) scheduled to be completed in 2004, the project will build or reconstruct about 7.5 miles of urban highways, about half of which will be underground; (13) as GAO reported in July 1997, the total funding needs for the project are $11.6 billion, or about $800 million more than the estimated net cost; (14) the Utah Department of Transportation will reconstruct 17 miles of Interstate 15 which is scheduled to be completed in July 2001; (15) the Alameda Corridor is a freight rail project designed to improve the movement of goods over 20 miles between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and railyards near downtown Los Angeles; and (16) expected to cost about $2 billion, the project has not yet been fully designed, and limited construction has begun.

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