Fay, Patch reporter, 6/30/12 (Sara, “Congress OKs Transportation Bill Expected to Speed Up L.A. Projects,” http://echopark.patch.com/articles/congress-oks-transportation-bill-expected-to-speed-up-la-projects-8c422cc0, Date Accessed: 7/1, JS)
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 flexibile terms. In conjunction with the extension of Measure R, 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. Twhe 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.
Wall Street Journal Market Watch 6/29/12 (“The U.S. Conference of Mayors Applauds Action On Renewal Of Nation's Transportation Law,” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-us-conference-of-mayors-applauds-action-on-renewal-of-nations-transportation-law-2012-06-29, Date Accessed: 7/1, JS)
"The passage of this transportation bill signals that Congress is still able to set aside partisan differences in order to invest in our nation's critical infrastructure. Mayors know first-hand the importance of streets, highways and bridges to economic opportunity. This bill will help ensure that our cities continue on the path of recovery and job creation."-- USCM Vice President Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith "Investing in infrastructure is vital for the long-term economic health and competitiveness of our nation. The approval today of the surface transportation renewal bill by Congress is a major step forward for the country. We must continue to put partisan differences aside and work together to ensure our roads and bridges are in good repair, both for now and the future." -- USCM Transportation Chair, Atlanta (GA) Mayor Kasim Reed "America Fast Forward is a path-breaking program that will dramatically accelerate transportation projects across the country. The Surface Transportation Bill will preserve 2 million jobs. With the inclusion of America Fast Forward, it will put close to an additional million Americans to work. Working in partnership with the US Conference of Mayors, we assembled a broad, bipartisan coalition, including nearly 200 mayors and both the AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce, to bring America Fast Forward to fruition. America Fast Forward expands an existing program - the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program - to give cities access to low-interest financing with flexible terms for their projects. With America Fast Forward in place, cities across America will be able to speed up the construction of locally funded road and rail projects and get our economy moving again." -- USCM Immediate Past President, Los Angeles (CA) Antonio Mayor Villaraigosa
With over 50% of U.S. roads in disrepair and over 70,000 structurally deficient bridges nationwide, this bill provides $120 billion over more than two years for much-needed investments in our failing infrastructure. Virginia will receive roughly $1.1 billion each of the next two years, representing a slight increase over previous years. The legislation provides certainty and continued funding for projects that have had to rely on nine consecutive short-term funding extensions since 2009. It delivers vital federal funding to allow VDOT to move forward on projects across the state such as I-581 interchange improvements in Roanoke, bridge and tunnel improvements in Hampton Roads, major rehabilitation work at the I-64/95 interchange in Richmond, and the Telegraph Road and I-495 interchange in Northern Virginia. “I am proud both parties and both chambers of Congress could come together to pass this legislation. This transportation legislation contains important reforms to accelerate project delivery while also giving states, localities and roadbuilders the predictability they need to hire and plan for the future,” Sen. Warner said. “Make no mistake: we still have a lot of work to do. America’s transportation infrastructure used to be the envy of the world. Not anymore.” Several of Sen. Warner’s specific priorities were included in the final language: MAP-21 will, for the first time, establish federal safety standards for transit systems nationwide. Provisions in the bill draw on legislation that Sen. Warner introduced earlier this Congress with Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jim Webb (D-VA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in response to the fatal 2009 Washington Metro accident. “This legislation will begin to address the troubling gaps in transit safety standards, oversight and enforcement highlighted by the deadly June 2009 Metro train collision,” Sen. Warner said. The surface transportation bill includes motorcoach safety legislation that Warner cosponsored along with Sens.Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Jim Webb (D-VA). These provisions will require common sense safety improvements, like seat belts and protection against fires, as well as additional safety training and registration requirements. “This legislation will place more focus on safety, and will make it harder for rogue, unsafe companies to operate,” Sen. Warner said. The legislation also authorizes $10 million for planning grants to allow localities to develop growth plans focused on transit-oriented development based on legislation recently introduced by Sens. Warner and Michael Bennet (D-CO). “With big projects like Rail to Dulles going in and localities across Virginia looking for smarter and more rational ways to manage growth, these planning grants should help us plan better over the long-term and better serve our commuters, residents and businesses,” Sen. Warner said Sen. Warner praised the House-Senate conference committee for removing language that could have placed restrictions on public-private partnerships. “Virginia has always been a leader in using new and innovative funding mechanisms to make much-needed transportation investments, and expanding TIFIA will do nothing but help us,” Sen. Warner said. “I am also proud to have fought successfully for the removal of provisions in previous versions of this legislation that would have placed burdensome restrictions on public-private partnerships, jeopardizing good projects like the I-95 HOT lanes.”