House-Senate Negotiators Press For Massive Fed'l Highway Bill, Defy Bush Veto Threat; Big Ticket LB City Hall, Port Desired Projects At Stake
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(June 23, 2004) -- Reuters reports (link below) from Capitol Hill that leaders of a House-Senate conference committee have indicated they are ready to risk a presidential veto to support higher spending in a massive federal highway bill...parts of which could fund big ticket items strongly lobbied for by LB officialdom including I-710 freeway expansion, a Gerald Desmond Bridge upgrade, reconfiguring the southern end of the 710 freeway, development of an Alameda Corridor East and other projects of "national significance."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, in April the GOP-led House of Representatives passed a $275 billion version of the "Transportation Equity Act, a Legacy for Users" (TEA-LU) which includes the cargo concept of federal funding for goods movement projects of national and regional significance (details below) by a lopsided 357-65 margin, theoretically veto-proof.
The Senate-passed version is even larger -- $318 billion -- but does not contain the verbiage for projects of "national and regional significance."
The two versions of the bills are now in a joint House-Senate committee where they will be reconciled (made consistent), then sent to the House and Senate for a final vote...and then to the President.
Of considerable ELB interest, the House version of the bill allocates $600,000 to "provide landscape enhancement of an existing open culvert on Atherton Street [in] Long Beach" (between McNab and Knoxville Aves. in the area of CSULB and Palo Verde Ave.) although the bill text doesn't specify covering the channel.
President Bush has threatened to veto the Transportation bill if it exceeds the administration's transportation spending proposal of $256 billion.
For Reuters coverage, click Congress Won't Back Down on Highway Spending.
Goods movement pertains to cargo transportation, including containerized intermodal shipment. In the LB area, goods movement involves transporting cargo to and from the Ports of LB and L.A. by freeway, rail or both. Increasing the capacity of freeways (esp. the 710) and rail lines is desired by the Ports of LB and L.A., trade and business interests and most of local officialdom to handle what they call responsible growth. Others locally have questioned the wisdom of continued Port growth...and have sought to reduce current levels of air pollution before inviting further Port growth.
As first reported by LBReport.com, in Nov. 2003 LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill used a Washington, DC visit in her capacity with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to support the omnibus national transportation bill.
Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., LB-Carson), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, played a key role in drafting and advancing the House version of the bill which includes the following local items:
- $1,000,000 - for City of Long Beach to reconstruct I-710 southern terminus off ramps;
- $600,000 - for City of Long Beach to provide landscape enhancement of an existing open culvert on Atherton Street;
- $1,500,000 - for City of Long Beach to construct pedestrian streetscape improvements on Ocean Blvd and Anaheim Street in Long Beach, including lighting landscaping and irrigation, and seating, drinking fountains, bicycle racks and trash receptacles;
- $1,000,000 - for City of Long Beach to develop and implement traffic calming measures for traffic exiting the I-710 into Long Beach.
- $1,000,000 - for City of Long Beach to acquire property and construct a park and ride structure in Downtown Long Beach.
- $5,630,000 - for the City of Signal Hill to widen & realign Cherry Avenue from 19th Street to one block south of Pacific Coast Highway;
- $2,000,000 - for the City of Carson to widen Wilmington Ave. from 223rd street including ramp modifications;
- $3,000,000 - for L.A. County to reconstruct and widen Del Amo Blvd. to four lanes between Normandie Ave and New Hampshire Ave;
- $1.5 million - for City of Compton to rehabilitate arterials;
- $3,000,000 - for City of Compton to design and implement Intelligent Transportation Systems on Long Beach Boulevard, Compton Boulevard, Wilmington Avenue, Walnut Avenue including communication interface with the Los Angeles County ITS System;
- $3,000,000 - for Gateway Cities to implement intelligent management & logistics measures to improve freight movement;
- $3,250,000 - for Gateway Cities for Diesel Emissions Reduction Program;
- $1,250,000 - for Gateway Cities for FHWA Diesel Emissions Reduction Program;
- $1,050,000 - for City of Carson to construct 213th Street pedestrian bridge to provide safe passage for pedestrians and wheelchairs;
- $3.5 million - for Watts to implement streetscape project on Central Avenue from 103rd Street to Watts / 103rd Street Station;
- $4,500,000 - for Long Beach Transit to purchase ten clean fuel busses
- $1,620,000 - for City of Compton to improve 33 bus stops in the local transit system and purchase 7 CNG buses;
- $1,000,000 - for Long Beach Transit to install security cameras on busses;
- $3.000,000 - for Long Beach Transit to purchase one larger (75 passengers) and two smaller (40 passengers) ferryboats and construct related dock work to facilitate the use and accessibility of the ferryboats;
- $500,000 - for City of Carson to purchase two tripper buses;
- $250,000 - for City of Carson to purchase one trolley-bus vehicle
- $250,000 - for City of Carson to purchase one bus;
- $1,500,000 - for City of Carson/South Bay to construct a transit center to serve existing routes and additional MTA lines.
- $1,500,000 - for City of Compton to construct fuel-dispensing facility for the transit CNG bus fleet.
- $3.1 million - for City of Compton to expand existing transit center in to a multi modal transportation building.
- $1,250,000 - for City of Los Angeles for First Street Bridge realignment.
04-02-04 TEA-LU release
- $7,500,000 - for City of Los Angeles to upgrade San Fernando Road corridor to include traffic calming measures.
- $2,500,000 - for City of Los Angeles to improve Glendale Freeway terminus to provide pedestrian access, construct sound barriers, and implement landscaping.
- $2,000,000 - for City of Los Angeles to upgrade Olympic Boulevard between Vermont Avenue and Western Avenue to improve pedestrian safety and reduce congestion.
- $1,000,000 - for City of Los Angeles to improve Central Avenue Historic Corridor Streetscape.
- $6,500,000 - for City of Los Angeles to widen roads, construct bicycle land and parking facility to enhance access to Hansen Dam Recreation Area.
- $837,628 - for City of Los Angeles to purchase clean fuel buses to improve bus service in South Los Angeles.
Regional projects in TEA-LU include:
- $15,500,000 - for Alameda Corridor East Gateway to America Trade Corridor Project, highway-railgrade separation along 35-mile corridor from Alameda Corridor (Hobart Junction) to Los Angeles-San Bernardino County line.
- $300,000 - for Phase II of the Alameda Corridor East Project, constructing grade separation projects from East Los Angeles to Pomona.
- $400,000 - for Los Angeles City College Red Line Pedestrian Connector Project to improve pedestrian access.
The House version of TEA-LU originally sought $375 billion in spending...but was downsized to $275 billion (projects of regional and national significance were reduced to $6.6 billion over six years instead of $17.6 billion).
The Ports of LB and L.A. are adjacent to Congresswoman Millender-McDonald's district, which includes roughly 80% of LB. The Ports are in the district of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV).
March 2004: Congress May OK $600,000 In Fed'l Dollars For "Landscape Enhancement" Of Atherton St. Culvert; Some Residents Want Culvert Covered; Issue Raised In 4th District Council Race
March 2004: Cong. Millender-McDonald Thanks House Trans. Committee For Including "Projects of Nat'l & Regional Significance" In Massive House Transportation Bill; House Committee OK's Bill With Downsized Spending
March, 2004: Cong. Millender-McDonald, Ass'yman Lowenthal & Vice Mayor Colonna w/ Gateway Council of Gov'ts Schedule LB Forum On Strains To Transportation Infrastructure, Air Quality & Quality of Life From Region Becoming Nation's Primary Trade Gateway
Jan. 2004: Public Pounds Port-Related Pollution At Congresswoman Millender-McDonald "Open Mike" Town Meeting
Nov. 2003: Mayor O'Neill Lobbied In DC For Millender-McDonald Goods Movement Bill HR 3398 During Conf. of Mayors Event After Deflecting Public Questions About City's Lobbying Role At Council Meeting; Cong. Millender-McDonald Seeks To Make HR3398 Part of Six-Year Omnibus Nat'l Transportation Bill
Nov. 2003: Mayor O'Neill Attends DC Press Event As Part of U.S. Conf. of Mayors' Support for Proposed $375 Billion Transportation Bill
Nov. 2003: Reaction Pro & Con To Cong. Millender-McDonald's Proposed HR 3398 To Create System Of Fed'l Funds Fueling Goods Movement Projects of Nat'l Significance; Neighborhood Activist Confronts Mayor, Asks What Lobbying City Hall, U.S. Conf. of Mayors & Regional Gov't Groups Played in the Proposed Legislation; LB Area Chamber of Commerce Issues "Call To Action" With Suggested Form Letter Supporting the Bill
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