In recent weeks, two competing pieces of legislation are moving in Washington, D.C. The first, is moving through the House of Representatives on a series of highly partisan votes and is reviled by advocates for transit, walking, bicycling and complete streets for it’s over-the-top support for highway construction. The other is moving through the Senate with unanimous bi-partisan support and funds a more balanced vision for transportation funding.
But in yesterday’s “sunshine” press conference, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, decided to look on the positive.
“It’s time for them to pass the surface transportation bill. it’s time for them to pass America Fast Forward,” Villaraigosa offered in a deflection of a question on Congressional investigation of how Los Angeles spent some of its federal stimulus funds. Later, responding to a direct question from Streetsblog about the partisan bill moving in the House of Representatives, Villaraigosa focused on Congressman John Mica’s (R-FL) support for America Fast Forward.
America Fast Forward is the mayor’s proposal to change and reform federal law to encourage federal investment in projects supported by local dollars. Under the proposal, Los Angeles Metro would likely be able to accelerate the construction of transit projects funded by a sales tax passed by voters in 2008.
“I am still positive about the portion of the bill that expands the current $128 million to a billion dollars for the TIFIA program which is one of the programs that L.A. needs to accelerate the 30 years of transportation funding into a shorter period of time, hopefully a ten year period,” Villaraigosa began.
“I’m also heartened that he did include three of the five reforms that we have said are necessary to accelerate that program.”
The Mayor did touch on the controversy surrounding the House Bill, but refused to weigh in. “I know there is some dissidence between the Senate and the House version, and I don’t want to get in the middle of that right now so I’ll leave it with a positive comment, for now.” Read more…