The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and the West Valley Connector have scored another major funding victory with the awarding of $26.1 million in additional funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The award comes two months after FTA announced an $86.75 million grant to the Transportation Authority for the connector project, a 100% zero-emission Bus Rapid Transit system that will link Ontario International Airport, two Metrolink lines and multiple activity centers from Pomona to Rancho Cucamonga.

The latest grant is part of $250 million in federal funding allocations announced on Friday, June 11, to help communities across the country protect the jobs of workers involved in constructing transit projects. The money was made available under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 “We’re so grateful to FTA, the Department of Transportation and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for their ongoing support of the West Valley Connector and the work we’re doing to create one of the most dynamic and innovative transit corridors in the United States,” said Frank J. Navarro, president of the authority.

U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar said he helped pass the American Rescue Plan “because it gives communities like ours the tools we need to get our economy moving again, create good-paying jobs and come out of this crisis stronger than ever. I’m proud to have played a role in securing this funding for the Inland Empire, and I’ll continue working to expand zero-emissions transportation options to reduce smog and traffic and better connect our communities.”

 The 19-mile Bus Rapid Transit system is a key element of an emerging state-of-the-art transit network between San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties. Other projects include the Redlands Passenger Rail/Arrow System, which eventually will feature the first zero-emission passenger train in North America; a proposed tunnel connecting the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station to ONT; and a proposed high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to that same Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station.

The Transportation Authority is at the forefront of each of ­these projects, which will provide significant economic and environmental benefits for the region.

“The support we’re getting for these projects validates the critically important role the Inland Empire and Ontario Airport play in creating opportunities and a better future for ourselves, Southern California and the state  and nation as a whole,” said Alan D. Wapner, mayor pro tem for the city of Ontario and president of the Ontario International Airport Authority.

The West Valley Connector will operate as part of Omnitrans’ sbX BRT service. The project includes the purchase of 40-foot zero-emission buses and construction of 21 new bus stations. Connections will include the Rancho Cucamonga station, part of Metrolink’s heavily traveled San Bernardino Line, Metrolink’s Riverside Line in Downtown Pomona, along with major destinations such as ONT, the Ontario Convention Center, Ontario Mills and Victoria Gardens.

Phase One of the project will include an upgrade of a portion of existing Route 61, which runs along Holt Boulevard, adding approximately 3.5 miles of a center-running dedicated bus-only lanes. The total Phase One capital cost is projected at $262.67 million.

 Start of construction is anticipated in 2022.

For more on the West Valley Connector, visit: gosbcta.com/project/west-valley-connector-brt/