Metro to provide city with about $1M in pandemic relief funds

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The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) approved Thursday distributing federal coronavirus relief funds for highway infrastructure programs to Los Angeles County and the county’s 88 cities, including Santa Clarita.  

The city will receive $1,035,968 of the $47.5 million provided to the county “to be used for a broad range of surface transportation purposes,” including “revenue losses, preventive and routine maintenance, operations, personnel (including salaries of employees or contractors), debt service and availability payments, as well as transfers to public tolling agencies and ferry systems that provide a public transportation benefit,” according to a Metro report. 

Consistent with the intent of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), the funds are also meant to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”  

The Metro report also noted that the $47.5 million represents the first and only pandemic relief funding to highway infrastructure activities. 

Masis Hagobian, the city of Santa Clarita’s intergovernmental relations analyst, said it’s premature for any city to start the planning process for how to use these funds. 

The city will work with Metro staff to identify eligible uses, he said, adding Metro likely will hold workshops before distributing the funds to help cities learn more about how to use them. 

The Metro board also approved an annual update of Measure M projects in the North County Subregion of Los Angeles, which includes Santa Clarita. Measure M is a half-cent sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2016 to fund transportation projects.  

The update gives jurisdictions like the city an opportunity to approve funding for additional eligible projects, revise the scope of work and schedule of projects, amend project budgets and remove projects. 

The board approved changes to various active transportation projects like the Bouquet Canyon Trail to Central Park, Santa Clara River Trail Gap Closure and others, which are part of the city’s 2020 Non-motorized Transportation Plan. 

“By providing underserved areas of the city with new bike paths and sidewalks, these projects begin to fulfill the plan’s vision of making Santa Clarita a community where people of all ages and abilities can feel safe walking or bicycling to nearby destinations as part of daily life,” Carrie Lujan, the city’s public information officer, said in an email statement. 

The changes originated with the North Los Angeles County Transportation Coalition and include two city transit projects, including an expansion of bus services at Vista Canyon and bus stop improvements at the Valencia Industrial Center. 

A capacity enhancement project for Highway 14 will also receive a $4.7 million allocation of Measure M funds over the next three fiscal years.  

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