A proposed $641 million federal loan that would help accelerate construction of the Westside subway project from Western Avenue to Brentwood neared approval Wednesday.
Out of 34 projects nationwide, the expansion is only one of eight chosen to move into the U.S. Department of Transportation's final approval phase, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both D-Calif., announced.
On Metro's website the agency said the loan "has been approved" however calls to both Sen. Boxer and Sen. Feinstein's office indicated that, while close, it was not officially a done deal.
The Secretary of Transportation told Feinstein the loan is very likely to be passed and the funds would be made available "sooner rather than later" to Metro, according to Feinstein's office.
The Westside Subway Extension Project would bring underground Purple Line trains across the Miracle Mile and Fairfax districts, Beverly Hills and Century City -- stretching from the Metro Wilshire Boulevard/Western Avenue station to the Veterans Administration hospital campus at Wilshire and the San Diego (405) Freeway.
The loan would come from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and would be paid back by funds from voter approved Measure R.
The federal funding would be money metro could use immediately to begin construction and allow it to complete the $5.2 billion extension as early as 2022 rather than 2036, according to Metro's website.
"Los Angeles is the largest city in our country without a comprehensive subway system,'' Feinstein said. "That needs to change. I urged the Department of Transportation to make this loan to (the Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in order to begin construction on the Westside extension and to establish a world-class transit system in a city that desperately needs one.''
The subway route has run into some opposition in Beverly Hills, where residents fear construction disruption and noise from subway trains if the line is built below homes near Beverly Hills High School. Train proponents have downplayed those concerns, saying the train should go below the homes and school to better serve office buildings and condos at Century City.
"I am so pleased that the Westside Subway Extension Project is advancing and attracting national attention as a model of how we finance and build transit projects nationwide,'' Boxer said.