MTA green-lights app for subway funding

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The “subway to the sea” will have a chance at getting jump-started by federal dollars after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Board of Directors moved forward Thursday on an application for the funds, in light of criticisms from area politicians.

The board voted unanimously to apply for competitive federal grants for the MTA’s Westside subway extension and downtown Los Angeles light rail connector projects.

A group of 14 members of Congress sparked a debate about the board’s approach to the funding application when they submitted a letter this week to MTA Chairman Ara Najarian, who also sits on the Glendale City Council, urging him to include other area projects on the application.

They argued that extension’s of the Gold Line and construction of a light rail line connecting LAX to the Green and Expo lines should have been given priorities for funding.

Najarian argued that the legislators, as well as other area lawmakers who raised protests in recent days, were misguided and unaware that including five projects in an application would jeopardize the area’s chance at earning federal funds. 

He added that the Gold Lines has been allocated $785 million, to be generated by Los Angeles County’s Measure R sales tax increase, while no money has yet been designated for the subway extension.

“Their money is going to be delivered, come hell or high water,” he said Thursday.

The subway could also prove much more attractive and worthy of funding in front of the Federal Transit Administration, which will consider major applications from the New York-New Jersey area, as well as Houston and Chicago, Najarian said.

The subway is projected to transport about 200,000 riders daily, while just 9,000 are expected to use the Gold Line, he said.

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Written by Zain Shauk

October 23, 2009 at 10:57 am

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