Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today applauded the final passage of a federal transportation bill that offers the possibility of billions of dollars to accelerate construction of major transit projects, including a Westside subway extension and a light rail through the Sepulveda Pass.
The $101 billion two-year 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.
The bill is a major victory for Villaraigosa, who lobbied hard on behalf of more than 200 mayors across the country for a federal lending program that was included in the bill.
"After one extension after another, Congress finally came together and
broke through the gridlock to pass the surface transportation bill," Villaraigosa said.
"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 bill includes loan guarantees that could lead to as much as $17 billion in competitive loans for transportation projects across the country.
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.