Metro, elected officials praise $900 million in federal funds for 2028 Olympics in LA

Metro and elected officials on Wednesday, April 3, celebrated nearly $900 million in federal funding for the Los Angeles region to support transportation and infrastructure projects ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

“On behalf of L.A. Metro, it is an honor to be here with leaders who have the key vision and strong focus to ensure that our region is prepared to welcome the world for the 2028 Olympics and Paralympic Games,” Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins said during a morning news conference at Exposition Park.

Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins speaks at the new Regional Connector Little Tokyo/Arts District Station in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, May 22, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The money comes from a congressional spending package signed into law by President Joe Biden, and from new federal grant funding. A large share of the money — $709.9 million — will go toward two L.A. Metro projects: the East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project and sections two and three of the D (Purple) Line Subway Extension Project.

In addition to the $709.9 million secured through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s New Starts and Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Programs, the region will also receive $160 million in new federal grant funding through the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program and the Neighborhood Access and Equity Programs.

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California, noted the recently passed appropriation bills in September 2023 gave a “sneak preview” of investments coming to the L.A. area.

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The Purple Line subway extension is being constructed in three sections, and will connect downtown with West L.A. It is part of a broader 9-mile project that will provide a high-capacity alternative to driving for commuters.

Metro anticipates receiving $165 million for section two (between Wilshire/La Cienega and Century City) and $478 million for section three (between Century City and Westwood), with all sections expected to open prior to the 2028 Olympics.

The East San Fernando Valley Light Rail Transit Project will receive $66.9 million to improve connections and access to crucial destinations. The first segment of the line is a 6.7-mile at-grade alignment that will run along Van Nuys Boulevard and will include 11 new transit stations.

“So today as part of the $900 million that we’re celebrating, let’s acknowledge that $140 million of federal funding is specifically targeted to reconnect communities here in Los Angeles,” Padilla said. “It was one of the first bills I introduced in 2021, Removing Barriers and Creating Legacy. It became a component of the bipartisan infrastructure law.”

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That particular pot of funding would improve bus services, bring online bikeshare stations and create mobility hubs that will “help the people of L.A. get around more efficiently,” he added.

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Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, noted there should be a shared vision for the Olympic Games to be inclusive and not exclusive. He said money to prepare the L.A. region should also be used to “right the wrongs of the past.”

Of the $160 million coming in from federal grants, the money will fund the following programs:

— $139 million for Metro to reconnect communities across highway and arterial barriers by creating multimodal investments: bus speed and reliability improvements, first/last mile strategies and projects, mobility hubs, and non-capital mobility solutions;

— $9.96 million for a partnership between Metro, Caltrans and L.A. County Public Works for construction of a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle overcrossing adjacent to the existing Humphreys Avenue bridge over the 710 Freeway in East Los Angeles;

— $5 million for the Port of Los Angeles to support a pedestrian bridge over two mainline freight tracks, which can accommodate emergency vehicles and connect the economically disadvantaged Wilmington community with the Wilmington Waterfront;

— $3.59 million for Friends of the Hollywood Central Park. In partnership with the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, Healing Hollywood aims to use community planning grant funds to take the Hollywood Central Park, a cap park over the Hollywood Freeway, from a concept design to a shovel-ready project; and

— $2 million for the city of Los Angeles to support community planning activities with the aim of creating 1.7 acres of new open space in one of the most park-poor areas of the city and remove a high-injury arterial adjacent to a high concentration of elementary schools by closing Wilshire Boulevard to vehicular traffic from Alvarado Street to Carondelet Street.

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Casey Wasserman, the chair of LA28, the committee organizing for the Olympic Games, emphasized that when the world comes to Los Angeles, they will experience “games that celebrate the people and the communities of our city,” as well as the “transportation system that connects the people and the communities of our city.”

“We are well positioned to host the greatest games on Earth, worthy of our city, worthy of our communities, and we can’t wait for 2028,” Wasserman said.

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