Orange County's elusive transportation funds, which all year have been granted and then yanked away by Congress, were restored in part by the House on Wednesday, but without the money requested by the Walt Disney Co. to construct a massive parking structure it says it needs for its proposed Westcot resort.
The House had earlier granted $10 million to pay for the Disney garage, as well as for ramps on and off the San Diego and Costa Mesa freeways in Costa Mesa. But the Senate refused to grant any money, distributing it instead to projects in other states. A conference committee this week restored $5 million, solely for the ramps. Officials said none of the funds would be used for Disney's garage.
Another $1 million to improve Bristol Street in Santa Ana was also restored, less than the original $3 million the House had allocated, but enough to keep the project on track.
The Senate must still pass the bill, but no opposition is expected.
Disney has said that it needs the money if it is to build the $3-billion Westcot resort near Disneyland. The garage, which would be one of the largest in the world, would allow Disneyland to remain open while the new resort is under construction.
Disney officials could not be reached for comment regarding whether the lack of funds will influence their decision to build Westcot. But local transportation officials said the money for the Disney garage was never really expected because Disney has yet to commit to the project.
The restored funds were a victory for lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), who fought to win back the money the Senate had essentially redistributed to other projects around the country.
"This is a case when perseverance definitely paid off," Dornan said. "I wasn't going to stand by while Orange County's tax dollars were shipped off to remote places around the country."