Mass Transit Construction Sees Turmoil As More People Work From Home

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Robison Wells
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With the lockdowns of COVID and the ensuing conversation about whether working from home or not will remain a more conventional way of doing business. Mass transit projects are taking a funding hit—or at least being highly scrutinized by the backers who are putting up the billions of dollars to fund them. In New York City, for example, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said that without federal assistance, they face a $16 billion funding gap through 2024.

High-speed rail could be the next item on the chopping block, although backers seem more optimistic about them generally.

In California, the bullet train (High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) they are stubbornly moving forward, although the federal government has withdrawn $100 billion in funding for the project. California Governor Gavin Newsom had previously shelved a $20 billion 119-mile portion of the rail line, which would have connected Merced with Bakersfield. And just this week, construction on a bridge was halted (named Construction Package 1) in favor of revisiting Construction Packages 2-4. The job holds 4000 construction jobs at 32 offices along the route.

In other parts of the world, Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains USA has three major high-speed rail projects under development, one connective South Florida to Orlando International Airport (estimated at $4 billion), one along Florida’s I-4 corridor from Orlando to Tampa, and one in the western USA, connective Victorville, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada. That line is priced at $4.8 billion. With all three projects in peril, that could be a loss of as many as 16,000 jobs.

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