Boxer and LaHood tout jobs creation but LaHood says little on subway funding

It’s a big day at Metro HQ in downtown, with Sen. Barbara Boxer and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood here for a town hall meeting on the next federal transportation bill. That is set to start in a few minutes and I’ll post about it this afternoon.

In the meantime, Sen. Boxer and Secretary LaHood held a press conference across the street at Metro’s downtown bus maintenance facility. Both touted the nearly $1.1 billion from last year’s federal stimulus bill that went to transportation projects in Los Angeles County.

Where is that money going? Here’s a short list:

•$189 million for the northbound 405 freeway carpool project
•$84 million to muni bus operators.
•$70 million for Blue Line traction power substations.
•$320 million for road maintenance projects.

Federal officials say that these projects have created or saved 11,700 jobs in L.A. County.

During the question period, I asked Secretary LaHood if he could comment on whether the Westside Subway Extension and the Downtown Regional Connector would get federal funding from the New Starts program.

Attentive readers of The Source know that the Federal Transit Administration recently rejected a $77 million request for money for preliminary engineering on both projects because neither project is yet officially a New Starts program.

LaHood’s answer: “We will continue to work with our friends in Congress to make funding available for worthwhile projects.”

I followed up and asked if he thought the subway and connector were worthwhile projects. LaHood said that he would not evaluate the projects at a press conference.

More on the town hall later….

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