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Transportation bill gets OK from Washington

June 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In a big political victory for L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, lawmakers in Washington have signed off on a massive transportation bill.

The good news for everyone else is construction projects that would have taken decades should be completed much faster. The transportation bill should speed up a number of road and rail projects in Southern California.

The 405 Freeway has a number of construction projects right now, including the addition of a carpool lane. That's resulted in closures as they build a new bridge, widen the road and shut down off ramps. That and a number of other projects could now be finished a lot sooner.

"For two years and three months you have certainty, for two years and three months you have robust funding, for two years and three months we're going to see 2 million jobs saved," said Senator Barbara Boxer.

The transportation bill passed by congress last week gives communities low cost financing for transportation projects. Voters already passed a tax increase to fund these projects, which would take 30 years. But with the bill, the federal government is advancing the money to pay for the projects now.

"This bill invests 105 billion dollars over the next two years and pits Americans back to work paving roads, laying track and building bridges across the country," said Villaraigosa.

The MTA says it will apply for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans to speed up specific projects such as the Westside Subway Extension and the Crenshaw Line. Motorists who drive on the 405 Freeway say anything that gets these construction projects done faster is good news.

"I think that would be a blessing to see it happen, especially under the circumstances of the big congestion that we have every day that we see Monday through Friday on the 405 Freeway," said driver Tommy Rivers.

President Barack Obama will sign the transportation bill into law Friday. Mayor Villaraigosa will be in Washington to take part in the event.

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