Wednesday August 03, 2005
This includes $833 million in additional earmarks for specific projects and highway and transit formula funds programmed by Metro. That's an increase over what the region received in the last major U.S. transportation funding measure approved in 1998.
Congress last week passed, and the President soon is expected to sign, a $286 billion six-year (FY 04 through FY 09) federal transportation funding bill. Los Angeles County will gain an estimated $3.5 billion in formula programming for maintenance and construction of bridges, highways and other transit facilities, bus purchases, and local transportation programs that help improve air quality. Approximately $1 billion is earmarked for 156 highway and 45 transit projects spread throughout Los Angeles County.
"This is a great day for Los Angeles," said Villaraigosa, who thanked all 18 members of the local Congressional delegation, particularly Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Mayor also cited local and state elected officials and the Mobility 21 lobbying coalition led by Metro, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Automobile Club of Southern California and other organizations.
"Working in partnership with Congress, especially our Los Angeles and California delegations, many important transportation projects were funded that will relieve traffic congestion and serve the transit dependent in the region," Villaraigosa said.
Major federal funding is earmarked for construction of the I-405 northbound carpool lane from the I-10 to US 101 ($130 million); replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge spanning the ports ($100 million); Alameda Corridor East construction from downtown Los Angeles to Barstow and Coachella that will feature traffic light synchronization, grade separations, and other upgrades to improve safety and reduce traffic delays caused by increased rail freight traffic ($167 million of which $73.6 million is LA County's share).
Also included is the Metro Gold Line extension to East Los Angeles, now under construction ($400 million); environmental and preliminary engineering studies and other advance work on a Metro Gold line Montclair extension ($21 million); $11 million that can be used for construction of the Exposition light rail line from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica; and $7 million for the Crenshaw Corridor Bus Rapid Transit project.
There also are dozens of smaller projects such as one to provide safer and enhanced pedestrian access to the Metro Blue Line train station in Watts; a new connector between the I-5 and SR-14; off ramp improvements on the Pomona Freeway, and monies to study the feasibility of building a tunnel extending the Long Beach Freeway in the South Pasadena area. Monies for bus purchases and construction of transit facilities for Metro and the municipal bus operators that serve Los Angeles County also are earmarked along with various road and technology improvements.
Besides direct funding, the multi-year federal transportation funding bill designates the I-710 Freeway corridor from Long Beach to SR 60 as a high priority corridor in the national highway system, a move that may position the corridor to receive substantial federal funding earmarks for a future retrofit to handle burgeoning truck traffic from the ports.
The bill also guarantees that by 2008, states will get back 92 percent of federal gasoline tax contributions. That's up from 90.5 percent today.
"Every dollar Los Angeles receives is important," Mayor Villaraigosa continued, "but all of us, at every level of government and in every community, must continue to fight for more federal and state funding for transportation projects. This funding is essential to keep our economy strong and our constituents moving."
Rep. Millender-McDonald underscored the Mayor's comments.
"To be sure, this transportation bill does not provide the funding levels needed to address all of our nation's critical transportation needs. However, given our current federal budget constraints, our record deficit spending and our ongoing commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a good start. This bill does provide mobility for millions of people, creates jobs, reduces congestion and improves the movement of our nation's goods. It will benefit the country and it will certainly benefit all of us in Southern California."