. At present, the current programs of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) typically allow for up to 80 percent of the total cost of a highway or bridge project (replacement of existing or construction of new) to be funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). FTA administers the New Starts program for fixed guideway systems. This program typically requires a non-federal (local/state) share of 50 percent of the project costs even though the enabling legislation allows for up to 80 percent to be federal – this is because funds from the New Starts program are awarded on a competitive basis and the amount allocated to the program is significantly less than the amount of interest from agencies across the nation (many of whom are expanding existing fixed guideway systems). As a note, this community supplements Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding dedicated to RTS with FHWA funds in recognition that USDOT does not provide enough funds to sustain, much less improve, our existing system.
The introduction of light rail in this community is not financially feasible at this time given the multitude of issues facing the community that require public resources, the overall resistance to additional local and state taxes and fees, and the fact that the local/state share for the construction costs of a light rail system (not including the on-going operating and maintenance costs) would be, at a minimum, approximately $12.5 million per mile (50 percent of the total cost at $25 million per mile).
With that said, GTC continues to assess the potential of high-capacity corridors in the region to determine the viability of implementing cost-effective fixed guideway public transportation services in coordination with associated transit oriented development. We do this because opportunities may arise in the future that would make a fixed guideway system cost-effective such as changes in USDOT funding policies, current development patterns, and personal travel preferences.
ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: What would be an example of a corridor in our area that would be a candidate for a fixed guideway system? What destinations might be connected?
MR. PERRIN: GTC has identified Commuter Corridors for the Rochester Transportation Management Area (see CommuterCorridors.pdf ), which includes all of Monroe County and the surrounding areas to the south and east in Livingston, Ontario, and Wayne Counties. The most prominent one at present would be a subset of Commuter Corridor 8 from, at a minimum, the University of Rochester to Downtown Rochester with consideration of extending the line south through portions of Brighton to the Rochester Institute of Technology and potentially north to the Port of Rochester/Charlotte.