While I was out sick last week, something pretty big happened outside the UCLA universe: the Federal Transit Administration approved the start of preliminary engineering for the Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension. This means it is all but a given that these two projects will be awarded money (called New Starts funding) to offset their cost. Funding could very well be included in next year's federal budget. Under the best-case scenario, groundbreaking (i.e. utility relocation work) on both projects could begin as early as mid to late 2012.