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Congress OKs Transportation Bill Expected to Speed Up L.A. Projects

Congress approves more than $100 billion for the two-year spending plan could expedite several major transportation projects in the Los Angeles area.

Update: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference with Sen. Barbara Boxer praising the passing of this bill. To read Patch's latest story on this bill, .

Congress on Friday approved a two-year, $100 billion transportation bill that would help to expedite several major road and rail projects in the Los Angeles area.

The bill, which now goes to President Obama to be signed into law, includes funding for the program known as America Fast Forward, which would speed up the Westside Subway Extension—the expansion of the Purple Line from downtown to Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and the Veterans Administration campus.

The bill also increases funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program from $122 million per year to $750 million in 2013, and to $1 billion in 2014. TIFIA gives cities loans for transportation projects with low interest rates and flexible terms.

In conjunction with the extension of , the half-cent sales tax that will be on the ballot in November, the TIFIA program would help to expedite 12 transportation projects in the Los Angeles area over the next decade, Metro stated on its blog, The Source:

...A Measure R extension plus an expanded federal loan program known as TIFIA would make it possible to build the 12 Measure R transit projects in the next decade or so — instead of waiting until 2039. TIFIA loans could also add $3.7 billion in funding to the Measure R highway program, which is needed because many of the projects are only partially funded by Measure R.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who traveled to Washington several times to lobby for the transportation bill, issued a statement applauding its passage:

"After one extension after another, Congress finally came together and broke through the gridlock to pass the surface transportation bill. Importantly for Los Angeles, the bill includes America Fast Forward, the innovative, nationwide funding program that grew out of 30/10, our plan to accelerate 30 years worth of transit projects in 10 years...
The passage of America Fast Forward will mean more jobs for Angelenos and will give a significant boost to our plan to accelerate transit projects here in Los Angeles and realize our vision of a 21st century transportation network."

The spending plan passed with rare bipartisan support. The U.S. House approved the compromise plan by a 373-52 vote. The Senate voted 74-19 in favor of the bill, which also extended the federal gasoline tax through September 2014.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Director of Federal Relations Raffi Hamparian said the agency would "move with dispatch" to apply for up to $2 billion in loans to accelerate Metro transit and highway projects.

The bill also includes $3.8 billion in so-called New Starts competitive grants that could be applied to Metro projects.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Simon July 06, 2012 at 06:27 AM
@Joe. Transit projects don't solve traffic (e.g., Manhattan, Hong Kong, etc.) but create alternatives to sitting and rotting in your car. L.A. will never not have traffic again, but they could have more options to getting places (e.g. subway to Westwood).
Sean McCarthy July 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Scott, if the LA City Council is terminally corrupt then the Beverly Hills City Council is as inept in dealing with Metro as Andy of Mayberry! Where was BH all those years ago when the routes were being debated? Has the city ever asked, no demanded a seat on the Metro board? Duarte has a rep on Metro's board of directors! Why was Beverly Hills unrepresented?
Sean McCarthy July 06, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I agree with Simon. Build for the world we have, not the one we fantasize with subways and bike paths. This is a car society. Build more smart roads and connect congested corridors with rapid transit that recognizes that people will drive to locations where they can take advantage of public transit. We don't need a twenty year plan to build a subway under the Santa Monica Mountains. What we need is a five year project to build roadways from the Valley to the west side and under the more congested roadways on the west side to key locations like Century City, Beverly Hills and Westwood.
Skraeling July 07, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Well, Sean, so where is all this land to build those freeways and what happens when oil becomes too expensive to use so freely, now that the rest of the world has caught up to the US? And, who will pay for these in addition to maintaining what is here?
Joe Parker July 07, 2012 at 05:50 PM
@Simon I guess I question the wisdom of spending a decade and billions of dollars on one subway route when for far less money and in less time we can update our bus system. That's an alternative "to sitting and rotting in your car."

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