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.
It took nearly three years to pass the bill because Congress and
the White House bickered over what were proper spending levels for
States also disagreed on how to best divide the billions in
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
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
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
“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.