By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — The city continues to seek funding for the Inglewood Transit Connector project after submitting a request for $400 million in funding from the state.
The city is still in need of more than two-thirds of the funds needed for the project before construction can begin.
A request for $400 million was recently made to the California State Transportation Agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program.
Despite the project not being 100% financed, the City Council continues to award contracts for work related to the project.
The council approved $35 million in contracts during the Nov. 22 council meeting, which will be reimbursed through a combination of Measure M and Measure R grant funds that are funded through sales tax increases approved by voters throughout Los Angeles County.
The project is under a joint powers authority agreement between the city and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The agreement was reached in 2021 to help secure financing and construction management for the transit connector project.
The proposed project is a 1.6-mile fully automated elevated transit system that is designed to connect transit riders from the Crenshaw/LAX (K) Rail Line to the Inglewood sports and entertainment district with three planned stops at Florence Avenue and Market Street, Prairie Avenue and Pincay Avenue and Prairie Avenue and Hardy Avenue.
According to a 2021 report to the MTA board, the transit connector will play an integral role in connecting transit riders during the 2028 Olympics as three sites in Inglewood will serve as Olympic venues: SoFi Stadium, the Kia Forum, and the Intuit Dome, which is currently under construction.
“While the eyes of the world will be on the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028, the work preparing our region for this grand stage is already starting,” Sen. Alex Padilla said. “The transportation plans made in the coming years will not only make the Olympics and Paralympics run smoothly, but will also be an investment that will benefit commuters and the region for decades to come.”
Padilla and Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the Transportation Assistance for Olympic Cities Act in June, with Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, aimed at improving Los Angeles’ transportation infrastructure ahead of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic games.
Padilla’s office said the act would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation to give Los Angeles priority for federal transportation grants for projects related to the Olympics. It would also direct the department to provide planning assistance for the games, including developing intermodal transportation plans and expediting federal review of requests related to Olympic events.
The legislation would also allow the Department of Transportation to provide funding for temporary facilities, equipment, operations and maintenance.
When the transit connector project was initially approved, the cost was pegged at $1.2 billion. The city has since received a $95.2 million grant from the California State Transportation Agency and over $300 million from the MTA.
A two-thirds majority of county voters approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase in 2008 to finance new transportation projects and programs, and accelerate those already in the pipeline.
County voters approved Measure M with 71.15% support in 2016. The no sunset half-cent sales tax measure funds projects to ease traffic, repair local streets and sidewalks, expand public transportation, earthquake retrofit bridges and subsidize transit fares for students, seniors and persons with disabilities.
Inglewood has received $15 million in federal funds from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program.
While the agreement between the city and the MTA continues to assemble funds, Inglewood continues to award contracts towards acquisition of land and other related items needed in preparation of receiving the full funding, which they estimate to have next year.
All activity related to the project is reimbursed by the MTA, although the city’s basic financial statements for fiscal year 2020-21 showed millions of dollars in reimbursements due from the MTA still outstanding.
According to Inglewood Mayor James Butts if all of the funds aren’t received the city has only one option.
“If we don’t receive all the funds we will halt the project where it stands,” he said.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at email@example.com.