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Transport Bill Includes O.C. Projects

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Money for an Orange County urban rail system and a provision that would reduce the environmental scrutiny of a South County toll road project were included in a massive federal transportation bill approved Wednesday by a key House committee.

The two Orange County items were part of a $13.1-billion spending bill approved Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee. The bill will move to a floor vote later this year.

The bill includes $4 million in seed money for an urban rail system that would begin in Fullerton, traverse the county’s dense central corridor and end on the southern edge of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. The proposed system is only in the conceptual stages.

The toll road provision, crafted by Rep. Ron Packard (R-Vista), would limit the extent to which federal environmental agencies can review the proposed Foothill South toll road that would cut through fragile ecosystems.

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Packard and supporters of the project say the environmental review process is lagging because the agencies are straying into topics outside their realm. Two key federal agencies have held up approval of the $644-million project by questioning the need for the road.


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