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Trump budget, Congress stop-gap measure leaves some Purple Line funding in limbo

The Red, Purple, Blue and Expo Lines meet at 7th Street/Metro Center Station in Downtown L.A.
Todd Johnson/KPCC
FILE PHOTO: Metro's Purple Line at 7th Street/Metro Center Station in downtown L.A.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is in Washington, D.C. on Monday and Tuesday, speaking at a conference and before Congress about the importance of federal investment in local infrastructure.

President Donald Trump has promised a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, but there are questions about whether transit projects in L.A. would benefit.

While the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a steady stream of funding from four voter-approved sales tax increases, including last November's Measure M, the agency also depends on federal dollars to help build out the county’s transit system. 

Federal funding made up nearly a fifth of the Metro budget last year, and officials assumed those funds would keep on coming for projects like the Purple Line subway.

But the budget proposed by President Trump in March trimmed many transit projects across the country, including the last section of the Purple Line to Westwood.

Yonah Freemark, writer and urban planner, sees reason for optimism in the short-term spending plan approved by Congress earlier this month.

"I think the good news is that the support in Congress appears to be steady and bipartisan," he said.

The stop-gap budget measure funds the government through September and restored money for several transit projects that Trump proposed to cut, such as the electrification of the Caltrain tracks in the San Francisco Bay Area.

But the last section of the Purple Line is still up in the air because it falls outside of the time period covered by the spending measure.

Freemark notes that even if Congress approves the funds, Trump’s Department of Transportation still has the final say on distributing the dollars.