LA Mayor Villaraigosa asks Congress for bridge loan to build 'Subway to the Sea'

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during a trip to Washington D.C., Feb. 23, 2010.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa during a trip to Washington D.C., Feb. 23, 2010. Kitty Felde/KPCC

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in Washington this week for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He began his trip with a day-long lobbying effort on Capitol Hill, making an unusual pitch.

Villaraigosa wants to build the “Subway to the Sea” within 10 years.

The problem is that it will take three times that long for a voter-approved half-cent sales tax to pay for it.

The mayor is trying to convince Washington to guarantee a “bridge loan” that would pay for faster construction. He says his pitch is unique, that "at a time when almost states and most cities are going to Washington with one hand open, we’re going with money in one hand and an open hand for a partnership in the other."

The problem is that the federal government has never guaranteed a “bridge loan” like the one the mayor wants. But Villaraigosa says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was interested in the idea.

The mayor will make his pitch to members of the California Congressional delegation and the most powerful transportation man in Congress, James Oberstar of Minnesota; he chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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