Damien Newton at L.A. Streetsblog just posted an interesting interview with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that touches on the America Fast Forward (AFF) plan to speed up construction of Metro transit projects.
AFF seeks to change federal law to allow for more federal loans and federally-backed bonds to build transit projects. The good news is that outlines of a new federal transportation spending bill release this month by the U.S. House and Senate include elements of AFF. The bad news: the outlines do not include all the provisions that Metro needs to accelerate all 12 of its Measure R transit projects.
Excerpt from Damien’s interview:
LASB: Pretty much everyone locally is supportive of America Fast Forward, and it looks like we’re going to see at least part of it in the federal reauthorization bill. But, if they don’t do that, is there a “plan B” to accelerate some of those projects.
Villaraigosa: There’s ALWAYS a “Plan B.” If you follow at all, whether it’s education reform, public safety, transportation, the environment…there’s always a “Plan B.”
I’m not going to share it with you right now. We always have a fall back plan….and we have one here as well.
And remember, we’ve already received some of America Fast Forward with the Crenshaw Line and a $636 million up-front loan for the subway. We’re already seeing acceleration of some of our projects.
I’m not sure what Plan B is, but it’s intriguing to hear that local officials are going to try more than one route to get transit projects built as quickly as possible.
I’m guessing that a lot of that has to do with the fact that no one wants to be complacent after Measure R passed in 2008 with 68 percent of county voters supporting the half-cent sales tax increase.
Even with the sales tax, the Westside Subway Extension — just one example — wouldn’t reach Westwood until 2036 unless something is done to secure more upfront money to build it now.
So stay tuned. And good work, Damien.