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L.A. leaders urge passage of federal transportation bill

March 22, 2012 |  6:49 am

High speed rail
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a group of business and labor leaders released a letter this week urging Congress' L.A. delegation to help pass a transportation measure they say will create jobs and further the region's aggressive rail expansion.

"Any reduction in funding to our nation's transportation programs will deal a devastating blow to local projects, local jobs and the national recovery," according to a copy of the letter from Villaraigosa's office.

The U.S. Senate recently approved a two-year, $109-billion version of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill that would greatly expand a federal loan program that could speed up construction of transit projects in Los Angeles and other cities.

That program is critical to Villaraigosa's campaign to build a dozen transit projects in one decade instead of three.

"Through America Fast Forward, the federal government can provide low-interest, up-front loans that are paid back over time through the guaranteed revenue stream," according to the letter, which is signed by Gary Toebben of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Maria Elena Durazo of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, among others.

House and Senate leaders remain deadlocked over the bill, including whether to add a provision expanding offshore oil drilling to generate more money for projects.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Image: Rendering of a California high-speed rail station. Credit: Los Angeles Times.