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Westside subway prevails in MTA's long-range plan

October 22, 2009 |  3:56 pm

In a victory for the mayor, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board today reaffirmed the Westside subway and a rail connection through downtown L.A. as the agency's top priorities for federal funding.

The board took the action despite calls from some in Southern California's congressional delegation that the MTA add other projects to its priority list for New Starts federal money, including light-rail extensions in the San Gabriel Valley, the Southside and the Eastside.

But backers of those projects did get a consolation prize as the MTA approved its long-range transportation plan, which outlines how it will spend an estimated $300 billion over the next 30 years.

The MTA board decided that those projects should be allowed to seek other types of federal funding.

Under the plan, L.A. County could see a significant increase in rail service in the coming decades. The extension of the Gold Line, for example, from Pasadena to the east could be complete by 2013, according to agency planning the line. The MTA agreed to operate the line if it is built before 2017.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been trying to fast-track the long-delayed Westside subway proposal.

He has been pushing to have the subway completed in 10 years — more than 15 years earlier than under current estimates. At his urging, the MTA board agreed to submit the subway expansion, as well as a plan to build a light-rail through downtown, as the county's two projects to compete for a share of a national pool of federal funding.

—Ari B. Bloomekatz