Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Covering new transit projects

September 16, 2015

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The new Hudson Yards subway station.

This week, New York City opened its first new subway station in more than 20 years. The Hudson Yards station is the city’s newest tourist attraction, attracting crowds on Sunday.

And, that’s not all: the city is scheduled to get an entire new subway line on Second Avenue next December, and new tunnels scheduled to open in 2022.

New transit projects are everywhere in the United States, and some of them are likely under construction where you are.

They include Detroit’s M1 light rail line running from downtown to the New Center Area; a streetcar system in Washington, D.C. and another under construction in Kansas City.

Voters in Phoenix last month approved a new tax to pay for improvements to the area’s light rail lines.

According to Az.com, the city’s 0.4 percent sales tax for transit will increase to 0.7 percent for transportation, beginning Jan. 1 and lasting 35 years. The sales tax is the foundation of a $31.5 billion plan that will be funded by a variety of sources including federal grants and fares.

The first stop in tracking new transit projects is to check the government’s list of TIGER grants.

Now in their seventh year, TIGER grants pay for surface transportation infrastructure, everything from railroad corridors to bus centers to bridges.

You can search the 2014 list of TIGER grants here.

Individual states also have lists of transit projects as well as road improvements. Check with your state’s Department of Transportation.

Governing.com has a list of the country’s five biggest transportation projects, plus five others that are in limbo.

There are all kinds of stories you can write related to transit projects. A key one: spending. Transit projects often go over budget, and delays are common.

You also can follow how many people get jobs as a result of these programs. Are the jobs going to people from your area, or are workers traveling from other states to nab them?

Likewise, who is getting the contracts for these projects?

Be sure to ask your audience how they feel about the new streetcar or transit improvements being built.

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