Santa Clara County will receive nearly $90 million in federal stimulus funds, including more than a million for Palo Alto roads, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted Wednesday.
The MTC, a regional agency that oversees transportation in nine Bay Area counties, divvied up the $490 million in federal money for road projects ($150 million) and public transportation ($340 million). Santa Clara County received the largest slice of the pie for road repair and rehabilitation projects -- $26.5 million.
An additional $12 million will go to install metering lights on Interstate 280 in Santa Clara County as part of the Smart Highways system.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will receive $47.5 million for new hybrid buses.
San Mateo County will receive $11 million for road repairs, and $7 million for metering lights on Interstate 280. Transit agency SamTrans will receive $7.9 million to fund operations and 137 new buses.
Caltrain will receive $10.4 million for track and infrastructure repairs, to replace the San Mateo County railroad bridge and replace its operations-control-center system.
The funding breakdown by city and unincorporated portions of both counties for road resurfacing and repairs includes: Mountain View, $714,000; Atherton, $207,000; East Palo Alto, $353,000; Menlo Park, $533,000; Portola Valley, $164,000. Woodside will receive $185,000 for bike and pedestrian overlays.
Palo Alto will receive more than $1 million for resurfacing San Antonio Road and Lytton Avenue.
The massive influx of money comes as a relief to local transportation agencies after Sacramento lawmakers slashed $536 million in funding for public transit statewide last week.
VTA will lose $50 million -- $35 million of it by the end of June -- mostly due to the recessionary drop in sales tax revenues, VTA spokeswoman Jennie Hwang Loft said.
SamTrans will lose roughly three quarters of its state-transit assistance, going from $4.3 million to $1.1 million, which was used for operations, according to Christine Dunn, spokeswoman for SamTrans and Caltrain. Half of the agency's operating budget comes from sales-tax revenue.
Caltrain will see its capital-projects funding from the assistance account drop from $3.7 million to $930,000. About 40 percent of Caltrain's revenue comes from member-agency contributions such as San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Another 40 percent is generated by fares, Dunn said.
The federal funding is designed to have a fast turn-around, spokespersons said.
"It's very intensive. We're trying to do our best to put the money out in the economy and generate jobs," Loft said.
The federal money will help, but it won't solve all of the agencies' problems, officials agreed. Many are looking for creative ways to close the gap.
"We're currently writing and developing budgets. We don't know how we will make up the losses, but we've got our pencils sharpened," Dunn said.
But with most transportation agencies experiencing record-breaking ridership, Dunn doesn't think routes will be in the line of thinking for cuts.
"Cutting service is not something we think would be productive," she said.
In Santa Clara County, Loft said VTA service is safe through June.
"This fiscal year, we were prudent and we absorbed a lot of the deficit," she said.
The cuts could prove detrimental to the system in 2010 and 2011. By the end of June the agency will have a projected $35 million loss in revenues from sales-tax, Loft said.
"Losing (a few) million dollars is one thing. When you start getting into double digits, that's a whole other scenario," she said.
In addition to funds for local transportation, the federal stimulus package includes $8 billion for high-speed rail nationwide.
"That's a 5,000 percent increase" in federal funding, MTC staff liaison Randy Rentschler told Fox News on Wednesday night. "High speed could be that one big game changer this year and next," he said.
California voters approved high-speed rail funding last June as Proposition 1A.
The commission has compared the scope of the stimulus package to major infrastructure projects built during the Great Depression, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Caldecott Tunnel, the Berkeley Marina, Alameda County Courthouse and San Jose Civic Auditorium.
"These 1930s investments helped make possible the unprecedented economic expansion that followed for decades to come," the commission wrote.
For a complete list of projects to be funded throughout the Bay Area, visit http://www.mtc.ca.gov/legislation/ARRA/Tier1ARRAProjects.pdf
VTA board members will discuss the budget deficit next Wednesday (March 4) at 5:30 p.m. at the County Government Center, 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose.