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Villaraigosa says local governments should unite in effort to finish Westside subway [Updated]

August 20, 2009 |  2:09 pm


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called today for speeding up construction of the $6.1-billion Westside subway extension, currently scheduled for completion in 2036 -- when he will be 78. [Updated at 3:10 p.m.: The subway would only reach Westwood by 2036, and the mayor would be 83. The cost at that point would be $4.1-billion. The entire $6.1-billon project would extend the line to Santa Monica, and no timetable has been set for that.]

As the most outspoken advocate for the so-called Subway to the Sea, the mayor has long been frustrated by that timetable and it was evident again when he and other officials gathered for a news conference in a UCLA parking lot. There, final soil samples had been drawn for a line that would follow Wilshire Boulevard from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica.

"I’m 56 now,” the mayor said. “We are here today to make sure that it gets built before I am 66.”

The key, Villaraigosa and the others said, is for local governments to put aside their differences over planned transportation projects and create a coordinated effort to secure enough federal money to expedite the subway extension as well as other key projects called for in Measure R, the county’s half-cent sales tax for transportation projects passed in November.

“We need a unified approach to get federal money," said Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who chairs the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors. "We need to bring the MTA board together. If it all comes together, we will be a force to be reckoned with. We will be able to advance all our projects.”

-- Dan Weikel

Photo: L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  Credit: Los Angeles Times