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Cities get $3.3M for transport

Darleene Barrientos

The House of Representatives approved a $286.4-billion transportation

bill on Friday, which will funnel $3.3 million into street and

transportation improvements in Glendale and Burbank.

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It took nearly three years to pass the bill because Congress and

the White House bickered over what were proper spending levels for

transportation.

States also disagreed on how to best divide the billions in

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federal highway money. The nation’s 1998-2003 transportation act

expired in September 2003 and this latest transportation bill will

cover 2004 through 2009.

“Transportation infrastructure is crumbling in this country,” Rep.

Adam Schiff said. “This bill will provide funding to improve highways

and byways across the country. In the local community, it will help

buy clean-burning buses, fund studies to make railroad crossings

safer, revitalize neighborhoods and help people get home and to work

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faster.”

Glendale will get $2.1 million for its top five priorities in

traffic and transportation, including $836,000 to fund a downtown

streetcar project, City Manager Jim Starbird said.

Money will also go toward rehabilitating Adams Street, including

the construction of wheelchair ramps, tree replacement and the

addition of catch basins to protect the city’s waterways; the

construction of cul-de-sacs, to limit vehicle access to tracks from

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Chevy Chase Drive; and purchasing new, clean-natural gas buses for

the Glendale Beeline system, he said.

Starbird was happy the city’s five top priorities were funded,

even though the city’s original list of requests totaled $41 million.

“These are relatively small in the terms of what we requested, but

we’re certainly very pleased, especially in the rough and tumble

world of federal money,” Starbird said. “But if you didn’t ask for a

lot, you’d get even less.”

Burbank will get about $1.2 million to purchase new compressed

natural gas buses to expand the city’s shuttle service and to fund a

study of the feasibility and design of a rail-crossing grade

separation at Vanowen Street, just west of Clybourn and Empire

avenues.

“The grade separation money is particularly valuable,” said Greg

Herrmann, Burbank’s assistant community development director for

transportation and city planning. “It won’t result in physical

improvements directly, but it provides money on whether it’s feasible

for a grade separation.”

The approval of the transportation bill was approved rather

abruptly, because Republicans who pushed for the passage of the

Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement used it as

political weight, Rep. Brad Sherman said.

The trade agreement, known as CAFTA, was narrowly ratified by the

House Wednesday, splitting California legislators almost entirely

down the aisle.

“It’s a little unseemly [transportation] was used as part of

passing CAFTA,” Sherman said. “They might say, ‘Hey, it was just good

transportation,’ but I don’t think so.”

* DARLEENE BARRIENTOS covers education. She may be reached at

(818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at darleene.barrientoslatimes.com.


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