Earlier this week, the Mayor’s Office called to set up a brief chat between Streetsblog and Mayor Villaraigosa during his trip to Capitol Hill as part of “L.A. on the Hill,” a yearly lobbying sojourn of L.A.’s elite. The trip coincided with a crucial vote on the reuthorization of the Surface Transportation bill, which failed yesterday to get the needed 60 votes to move to the Senate floor.
Mayor Villaraigosa and Secretary LaHood at Union Station in Los Angeles last month.
But the Mayor is still positive that his signature project, America Fast Forward, will move forward in some form when the legislature finally does pass some sort of extension of the legislation that guides federal transportation policy and funding. Whether that happens sooner, as the Mayor hopes, or after the election, as many Hill watchers fear, remains to be seen.
In private meetings with other elected officials and Secretary LaHood, Villaraigosa isn’t hearing a lot of buzz about efforts to strip bicycle and pedestrian funding proposals from the transportation funding legislation. After commenting that such proposals didn’t make any sense, he seemed to hedge his bets a little noting, a “there’s folks that don’t make any sense here in teh Beltway.”
In the meantime, Villaraigosa is looking forward to CicLAvia, an event he is “very proud of.” The mayor noted that each CicLAvia is bigger and better than the one before. He looks forward to being out on the street to see what the next CicLAvia holds.
Read on for our full interview. Streetsblog’s comments are in bold.:
Your office called us, I’m guessing you had something you wanted to talk about?
First off, thank you for the work that you do to really promote our roads and our streets as places where we should be able to get in our car, hopefully in a carpool, or buses, or public transportation or walk and bike as well.
I would prefer to do more of a question and answer. What do you want to talk about?
I’m here in D.C. as you know with “L.A. on the Hill” which is the opportunity for Angelenos, business leaders and non-profit leaders, labor, to come together with the Mayor to the hill with the mayor and advocate for the city of la and advocate for the region. In this case, we’re hear focusing on the surface transportation bill which you know Is so important. We must pass this legislation.
It’s on the floor of the Senate as we speak. It’s my hope that it will pass the Senate next week at sometime then goes to the House and get approved there.
It’s a $110 billion two year bill. If we pass it, we save about 1.8 million jobs, but we also have a chance to add another 1 million jobs with America Fast Forward. This is L.A.’s plan that we used to call the 30/10 Plan. It accelerates 30 years of transportation projects to a ten year period. It now has the support of 124 mayors and we call it America Fast Forward.
It would extend the TIFIA Loan Program from the current $124 million to $1 billion. And it incentivizes cities such as ours to invest in transportation, transit and infrastructure.
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the House version of the transportation bill. Has any of the backlash against the bill impacted the House Republican’s feelings about America Fast Forward? Is the enthusiasm still there on the House Side? Read more…