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Alameda Corridor East loses out on federal funding

Alameda Corridor East loses out on federal funding

The Alameda Corridor-East Gateway rail project, meant to speed the flow of freight trains through the San Gabriel Valley, appears to be one of the first casualties of the U.S. Congress' 2008 transportation bill.

   Despite approving $104.4 billion for rail, bus and highway improvements throughout the nation, House Democrats failed to provide $20 million in 2008 funding asked for by the joint powers authority overseeing the rail project.

   A San Gabriel Valley public transit extension of the Metro Gold Line to Claremont was also shut out of the 2008 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that passed the House on Tuesday. The bill still faces approval by the Senate, which can amend the details and, if moved forward, must be sent to the White House for a signature.

   The House decision to not fund the two projects drew criticism from area elected officials.

   “I cannot and will not support a bill that spends so much money and ignores the problem of traffic congestion in Southern California,” Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, said in voting against the bill.

   Dreier and many House Republicans objected to the bill's $5.9 billion increase in spending over the previous year. House Democrats defended the bill, noting that though the amount was higher, the amount going to representatives' pet projects was reduced. According to Democratic leaders, a party mandate to not increase deficit spending required eliminating a number of projects such as the two in the San Gabriel Valley.

   Officials at the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority, which oversees the project, hoped to see the requested funds reinserted in the bill on the Senate side.

   The Alameda Corridor East project aims to improve 55 automobile-railroad crossings throughout the San Gabriel Valley in order to speed the flow of freight trains through the area. The first phase of the project, including safety improvements at 35 crossings and two of 10 grade separations, have already been completed.

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