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Los Angeles Gets $546 Million in U.S. Funds for Rail Project

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Los Angeles’s pursuit of an expanded mass-transit system is advancing as the U.S. Transportation Department today approved a $546 million loan to build an additional light-rail line.

The loan comes from two federal programs aimed at speeding infrastructure construction and will let work on the so-called Crenshaw/LAX line begin in early 2011, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on a conference call. U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, also on the call, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood informed her of the loan’s approval today.

“It’s going to create about 5,000 jobs,” Villaraigosa said. “At a time of historic deficits and debt and deep divides on partisan grounds, jobs, transportation and infrastructure is an area where we can find common ground.”

The funds for the $1.4 billion, 9-mile line, which will connect with other light-rail lines in the most congested U.S. city, are the first under Los Angeles County’s push to access taxes approved for transit projects earlier than planned. County voters in 2008 approved a sales-tax increase intended to generate about $40 billion over 30 years.

Villaraigosa was among mayors and governors who traveled to Washington earlier this week to attend a speech where President Barack Obama promoted spending $50 billion on transportation to repair “crumbling” roads, bridges and rail lines.

Along with the Crenshaw/LAX project, Los Angeles County officials are pushing to complete a subway extension, more train lines and a rail link to Los Angeles International Airport within 10 years, rather than three decades.

Los Angeles ranked as the nation’s most congested city based on the INRIX National Traffic Scorecard last year. It has had the longest average travel time in Texas A&M University’s Texas Transportation Institute Urban Mobility report every year since 1985.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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