2028 Olympic transit line hangs on federal funding cut in Trump's budget plan
The city of Los Angeles has struck a deal to host the 2028 Olympics but questions remain whether an important transit project will get needed federal funding to stay on schedule.
A lot has changed since the city last hosted the games in 1984, including the addition of a built-out rail system. Back in the 1980s, L.A. had no rail lines so visitors to the Olympics got around on a system of shuttle buses.
Now L.A. County Metro runs six rail lines, and is building more, thanks to a series of voter-approved transportation taxes.
By 2028, the Crenshaw light rail line connecting to the Los Angeles International Airport will have been in operation for almost a decade. The Regional Connector will provide seamless travel with fewer transfers through downtown L.A., the Gold Line will extend all the way to San Bernardino County, a section of light rail will connect Southeast L.A. with downtown, and new rapid buses will connect areas of the central city, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley.
But the most important expansion will be the Purple Line subway down Wilshire Boulevard that will provide a vital link from the Olympic Village at UCLA to venues throughout the city.
The new line is set to open in 2024, accelerated from an earlier date of 2035 by an infusion of money from the Measure M sales tax approved last November. The faster timeline, however, is also predicated on federal funding, which the Trump administration has proposed to cut.
The budget plan drafted by the administration would trim future funding for the Capital Investment Grant Program administered by the Department of Transportation. That program has provided matching federal dollars for major L.A. Metro projects, like the Regional Connector, and the first two phases of the Purple Line's construction.
The third phase of the Purple Line, connecting Century City with Westwood and the Veterans Administration Hospital, was expected to receive a federal grant in the 2018 funding cycle, thus allowing construction to take place at the same time with the other sections.
"We would have to evaluate other options for funding at a later date if that funding doesn't come through," said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero. But the agency is optimistic that Congress will restore the funding in its final budget.
Last week, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee passed a spending bill that restored funding for the grant program. It still has to win approval from the full Senate and then be reconciled with the House proposal, which currently does not include the grants.