Much has been made of the proposal to reauthorize the Federal Transportation Trust Fund that was submitted by Republican Congressman John Mica last week. The Mica Bill has been criticized by Democrats who feel left out of the proposal, advocates for green transportation options who bristle at the proposed elimination of the bicycle and pedestrian programs and the construction industry shocked by dramatic cuts to an industry that is already seeing higher-than-average unemployment in an era where the unemployment rate is beyond average.
To paint an even uglier picture, SF Streetsblog broke down the bad news for transit agencies and cities throughout California while Capitol Hill Streetsblog just called it a “disaster for transit.” But there is a surprise winner in the legislation: Los Angeles’ 30/10 plan, aka America Fast Forward. This plan would allow Los Angeles to build its Measure R transit projects, currently slated to take three decades, to complete their planning, environmental studies and construction in the next decade. The plan was rebranded because it provides benefits for all areas of the country willing to shoulder a major chunk of the burden of building their own transit.
Back when Mica and California Senator Barbara Boxer held a field hearing on reauthorization back in February, the Congressman was pressed by Mayor Villaraigosa to dramatically expand the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program up to $350 million a year which would be a dramatic increase from the $110 million a year funding level it is currently at. While the Mica Bill cuts spending by nearly 33% from the federal government, this loan program would explode to $1 billion a year, nearly triple what Villaraigosa proposed just over four months ago. It’s no wonder that while Democrats around the country have attacked the bill so much that Mica is publicly complaining about his treatment, Villaraigosa releases a statement praising Mica:
I know that Chairman Mica, who graciously co-hosted a transportation hearing in the City of Los Angeles earlier this year with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), understands the scale and scope of the transportation and economic challenges facing all Americans.