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Obama speeds Southland light rail, wind energy projects

In an effort to boost jobs and speed the path to construction, President Obama on Monday put 14 national infrastructure projects on a fast track for approval. Four are in California, including a wind-energy plant in San Bernardino County and a light rail line through South Los Angeles.

The move dramatically shortens the permitting and environmental review processes. In a statement, White House officials described it as “an important next step in the administration’s efforts to improve the efficiency of federal reviews needed to help job-creating infrastructure projects move as quickly as possible."

The Crenshaw Line, an 8.5-mile light rail that will run from the Expo Line at Exposition Boulevard to the Green Line near Los Angeles International Airport, will now receive extra help from the Federal Transit Administration “to shorten the approval time for this project by several months,” according to the release.

The Cleghorn Ridge Wind Project, meanwhile, is an effort to build up to 52 wind turbine generators along a ridge line in the San Bernardino National Forest. It will now take as little as 18 months for federal agencies to complete their reviews, compared to the three years originally estimated.

Los Angeles County Supervisor and transportation official Mark Ridley-Thomas praised the announcement and said millions of dollars could be saved for the Crenshaw line as a result.

“What we know is time is money,” Ridley-Thomas said. “The fact of the matter is, as soon as this is done, the sooner people can get to work building this project. Expediting is really about jobs.”

Ridley-Thomas said the announcement also increases the possibility that funding will be available for an extra stop on the Crenshaw Line at Leimert Park Village.

Other projects around the nation to get expedited reviews include the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, the Denver Mariposa Housing Project in Colorado and the Whittier Bridge replacement project on Interstate 95 in Massachusetts.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

 
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