Senate passes transportation bill by wide margin

This just in from Metro’s government relations staff — it’s a nice step forward for the America Fast Forward program:

Moments ago, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly (74 to 22) to adopt its surface transportation bill (S. 1813), also known as MAP-21. The bill, championed by U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK), represents an unusual triumph of bipartisan legislating in the current Congress. The bill will fund surface transportation projects through 2013 at a cost of $109 billion. The bill includes an innovative finance section, entitled America Fast Forward (title II of Division A of the bill) that was the product of our agency’s Board-approved plan to accelerate our Measure R funded highway and transit program. As recently as last week, Senator Boxer praised her strong working relationship with Los Angeles County transportation leaders in crafting her bill, namely the America Fast Forward title of S. 1813.

As we shared in a Legislative Alert yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives is in recess this week. The House leadership expects to work on their surface transportation bill (HR 7) in a yet-to-be determined form when they come back to Washington next week. Metro’s federal team is actively engaging with our Los Angeles County House Delegation to ensure that they and their aides have all the information they need on our Board-approved legislative program should the House bring HR 7 to a vote next week. The current surface transportation bill extension expires on March 31, 2012.

2 replies

  1. Hi Steve,
    Next time you guys do a piece about American Fast Forward could you take a stab at the following questions? The Washington Post article says that the lending program (as it is in the Senate bill) would be increased to $1 Billions (per year, I assume?). How far would that go towards realizing our 30/10 plan? How much would we need to borrow per year over the next decade in order to build the key transit projects? Also, what fraction of that billion could we expect, and how can we count on it with only a two bill? What projects do not need Fast Forward, beyond Expo and the Foot Hill lines? A related question is whatever happened to the $500 million loan that was promised from the Feds for the Crenshaw line and has it affected that projects timeline.
    Of course, most of these questions wouldn’t matter if the lending program doesn’t make it into the final law.
    Thanks

    • Hi Kelly;

      First, I recommend reading the L.A. Times story on the transpo bill – their story speaks to some of the local issues. Link:

      //www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-highway-bill-20120314,0,6534144.story

      The short answer to your question is that it remains to be seen exactly how much Metro can get from an expanded TIFIA loan program, assuming the House of Reps and the President approve of a bill similar to what the Senate has passed. That will determine levels of interest, etc. It is safe to say Metro will agressively seek any money.

      The Crenshaw loan is still there. The project is scheduled to be complete in 2018; it doesn’t appear the loan will advance that. One reason has nothing to do with the loan — it’s a complicated project that involves a lot of tunneling for its underground segments.

      As for project acceleration, it could (emphasis on ‘could’) benefit the projects with the longest timelines: Westside Subway all the way to Westwood, Green Line to LAX, Eastside Gold Line Extension, West Santa Ana Corridor, Green Line South Bay Extension, Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor.

      Hope that helps,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source