THE BLOG

Testifying on Our 30/10 Plan

05/10/2010 03:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thursday morning, at the request of Senator Barbara Boxer, I testified before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works hearing in Washington DC. Chairman Boxer convened the "Federal, State, and Local Partnerships to Accelerate Transportation Benefits" hearing to discuss our 30/10 program to fast track the 12 transit projects in Measure R from a 30-year to a 10-year construction schedule.

Senators Boxer, Inhofe, Lautenberg, Carper, Whitehouse and Voinovich attended the hearing and were all very interested in our efforts. Everybody was intrigued by the 30/10 concept and encouraged us to continue to pursue a partnership with the federal government.

At the hearing, Senator Boxer affirmed her support for 30/10 and said she has begun researching how existing programs can be used to leverage the Measure R half-penny sales tax revenue. It's great to have her on board.

We heard lots of smart technical questions from Senators about financing options. Experts agreed that because LA County is bringing own local money to the table, this could be a model for other areas of the country.

Roy Kienitz, Undersecretary for Policy, USDOT reviewed the many good programs that USDOT currently has, but he noted that they are all "project based," meaning none is large enough to help us build all 12 projects in 30/10.

But there are several that could help us get part of the way there and he wants to figure out a way to make those programs work for us.

Our financial experts believe that we can meet most of our funding needs by financing the project costs up-front using tax exempt bonds and by tapping existing federal programs such as "Build America Bonds" and "TIFIA."

A national infrastructure bank would be a sound financing mechanism, but unfortunately that's several years from being able to provide funding.

We're also exploring a more aggressive federal program of interest rate subsidies, loan guarantees, direct loans, and/or innovative re-payment terms.

It's great to have such a good dialogue with high level Federal officials who understand what 30/10 means for jobs, the environment, and mobility in Los Angeles County.

Cross-posted at mayor.lacity.org