City officials say each day construction is halted could cost taxpayers $146,000, but ART opponents claim it would cost taxpayers even more if the city doesn’t get federal funding.
The city submitted its response Monday, and a judge could make a decision by the end of this week.
“The FTA [Federal Transit Association] has not yet approved this project for funding,” said attorney Yolanda Gallegos.”So the mayor to move forward on these circumstances to actually accelerate the construction schedule is just needlessly and recklessly jeopardizing taxpayer funds.”
This lawsuit isn’t about whether the city should take steps modernize rapid transit , Gallegos said. On the contrary, she said they want improved rapid transit. What they seek is “a design that makes sense.”
Without confirmed federal funding, Gallegos said it’s not fair to move forward with the project.
“The FTA attorneys informed us that it is still reviewing the city’s grant application, and it is still considering the design and traffic impacts on this project,” she said.
But the city says that’s nothing new.
“We meet weekly with the FTA. Every meeting has been positive,” said Michael Riordan, chief operations officer for the city. “They’re still supportive of the project and they’re still working toward getting our grant agreement sometime this fall.”
Riordan said they’ve gotten the go-ahead from the FTA to start construction, and it’s typical for projects to start while waiting for the formal agreement.
“We just need to start construction,” he said. “The only thing that’s guaranteed is the construction cost will go up if we delay the project.”
It’s a project that opponents say shouldn’t have started in the first place.
“It doesn’t make sense under these circumstances to go forward with construction,” Gallegos said.