The City of St. Louis has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an analysis that will explore alternatives for the expansion of public transit within the Northside-Southside corridor. The city and Bi-State Development worked jointly to develop the scope of the work and will jointly manage the project.
Per the RFQ, the city is seeking to explore possibilities for closing the existing funding gap to construct and operate a Northside-Southside light rail expansion. The city also looks to explore less capital-intensive options for high-capacity transit within the Northside-Southside corridor. The city said the RFQ “shall be informed by the imperative to reduce racial and economic disparities within the City of St. Louis and wider region.”
The analysis will be funded by up to $1.5 million from the Economic Development Sales Tax authorized by voters in 2017. Sixty percent of that sales tax has been reserved for future transit expansion since it was approved. The Economic Development Sales Tax Board approved the funding to be included in the city’s FY21 budget that was also authorized by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Aldermen.
A previous study concluded that capital costs would likely range between $942 to $947 million to construct the light rail line with an additional $24 million required for annual operations and maintenance. It also concluded that the current revenue stream from the 2017 Economic Development Sales Tax, combined with the maximum 50% federal cost share for capital costs, would be inadequate to build, operate, and maintain a new light rail line.
It was also previously found that the project as currently conceived might fall below the eligibility threshold for federal funding based on scoring criteria the Federal Transportation Administration applies to every project. Without a federal funding contribution, a light-rail expansion would not be financially feasible, the city said. Missouri state government provides some of the lowest levels of funding to local transit agencies of any state in the nation.
The deadline to submit is September 24. The RFQ can be found at https://tinyurl.com/STL-RFQ.