US mayors back Villaraigosa's 30/10 transportation initiative

The U.S. Conference of Mayors backed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposal to use federal funds to complete a dozen major Los Angeles County transportation projects.

A resolution introduced by Villaraigosa at the conference's annual meeting in Oklahoma City was approved unanimously.

Villaraigosa's proposal — dubbed the 30/10 initiative — calls for rapidly accelerating the construction of $18.5 billion worth of transportation projects, including a portion of the so-called "Subway to the Sea.''

Under the original plan, those transportation projects would be funded through Measure R, a voter-approved half-cent sales tax, over 30 years.

Villaraigosa said the transportation projects could be completed in just 10 years with funding from the federal government.

In a statement issued from Oklahoma City, the mayor said "30/10 doesn't fit neatly into any existing federal infrastructure financing program, so an innovative funding package is needed.''

"We're not asking for a handout because we have local funds to pay (it) back over time through a local-federal partnership,'' he said.

"Mayors from all around the country told me they see that 30/10 could be a national financing model to enable them to build and finance their own transportation projects,'' Villaraigosa added.

His resolution calls on the federal government to establish a national bond subsidy and direct loan program.

According to Villaraigosa, finishing the projects in 10 years would create 165,000 construction jobs and at least 2,800 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.

He said it would also eliminate more than a half-million pounds of emissions; save 10.3 million gallons of gasoline; and expand transit boardings by 77 million during each year of that decade.

The projects are: