Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrated the that could expedite several major transportation projects and create many jobs in Los Angeles County in a press conference with Sen. Barbara Boxer near the 405 Freeway on Thursday.
“Today we celebrate this commonsense investment in America’s future,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “The Surface Transportation Bill will put 3 million Americans back to work building our country’s transportation backbone.”
The bill includes funding for the program known as America Fast Forward, which could expedite the Sepulveda Pass Corridor project, 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. The bill also includes $3.8 billion in so-called New Starts competitive grants that could be applied to Metro projects.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's director of Federal Relations, Raffi Hamparian, said last week the agency would "move with dispatch" to apply for up to $2 billion in loans to accelerate Metro transit and highway projects. Those projects include the Westside Subway Extension, the Crenshaw Line and the transit project through the Sepulveda Pass.
Boxer, chair of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, co-authored the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. 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.
Villaraigosa has spent months lobbying for this bill, and he will travel to Washington, D.C., Friday to watch President Barack Obama sign it into law.
This article was compiled with information from City News Service.