A federal transportation bill is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama Friday, July 6, bringing federal aid, jobs and accelerated transportation projects to the Southland. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa championed the bill, loans from which will supplement revenue from Measure, a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008. Janet Kwak reports from Sherman Oaks for the NBC4 News at noon on July 5, 2012.
Instead of waiting 30 years for improved transportation systems, LA commuters can put their hope in a federal transportation bill that was praised by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Sen. Barbara Boxer Thursday and is expected to complete 12 transportation projects in 10 years.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill Friday.
“This bill invest $105 billion dollars over the next two years and puts Americans back to work paving roads, laying track and building bridges across the country,” Villaraigosa said during a news conference off the 405 Freeway near Sherman Oaks.
Villaraigosa and Boxer hailed Congress' approval of the American Fast Forward program, which will supplement the LA Metro 30/10 Initiative. That regional initiative is funded by Measure R, the LA county half-cent sales tax voters approved in 2008 and expected to raise $40 billion over 30 years, according to Metro.
The bill sets aside more than $100 billion for transportation programs over the next two years and is expected to put millions of people back to work.
“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 and 1 billion new jobs created,” Boxer said.
The money should help with city projects such as the Westside subway extension, a new Los Angeles-LAX line to increase the metro rail system to the airport and carpool lanes added to the 405 Freeway to alleviate congestion.
Last month, the Metro board voted to send an extension of the Measure R sales tax to the November ballot in the hopes that its approval will allow lower interest rates be attached to the federal loans -- which will be paid back the half-cent sales tax, according to mayor's office officials.
The federal bill will allow the city to borrow more money from the government upfront, likely accelerating the projects, officials said.