The Federal Transit Administration has given a helpful push to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's plans for its North and Southeast bus rapid transit lines, Metro President and CEO Frank Wilson said Tuesday.
FTA officials announced early in the day that the two projects are among six nationwide that might qualify for 50 percent federal funding under the Bush administration's 2008 budget proposal.
Wilson said that last week the FTA also issued Metro a "record of decision" in favor of the North line and followed up Tuesday with one for the Southeast line.
"The record of decision allows us to go ahead and spend money on various elements of the project -- land acquisition, engineering, some elements of construction," Wilson said.
"It also is a signal to the marketplace that if we borrow money for the projects we are likely to get federal support," he said.
Metro plans to build the East End and Uptown lines with its own funds.
Wilson said federal officials determined in December that the intermodal terminal will not have significant negative impact on the North Side neighborhood, clearing the way for land purchases and design work.
The University line, a proposed light rail from the University of Houston to the Galleria area that has drawn neighborhood opposition, trails the others by about a year, but Metro will seek federal aid to build it, too, he said.