WASHINGTON — A House committee Thursday passed a massive, five-year federal transportation bill that sets aside about $450 million to extend the Metro Rail subway into the San Fernando Valley.
The Public Works and Transportation Committee earmarked money to build the subway to North Hollywood as part of a $153.5-billion House measure that authorized continued funding for a smorgasbord of highway, bridge and mass-transit programs across the country.
The landmark transportation bill, which still must be approved by the full House and Senate, included a total of $695 million over the next five years to construct the Metro Rail Red Line from Union Station to North Hollywood.
The line, which is now under construction at the downtown end, is scheduled to be running by 2001.
Officials of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, which is building Metro Rail, hailed the bill, saying it means they will not have to compete with other local mass-transit agencies for new funding every year, as they have in the past.
"It's a multi-year commitment, rather than an annual appropriation," said Linda Bohlinger, the commission's director of capital planning.
The 6.3-mile Valley extension will stretch from the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood to Lankershim and Chandler boulevards in North Hollywood.
It represents the third leg of the Red Line, which is to be 17.4 miles long and will cost about $1.1 billion.
Transportation officials expect that after 1996, when the $695 million in federal money runs out, the county transportation commission will have to finance the balance of the extension, hoping it will be reimbursed up to $1.1 billion by the federal government.
In addition to the Metro Rail funding, the House bill contained $6 million to pay for initial design and engineering work for a $71-million interchange on the Antelope Valley Freeway at Avenue P-8 in Palmdale and widening of the avenue, said David Joergenson, an aide to Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale).
City officials hope to widen the road to eight lanes between the freeway and 50th Street, partly in order to provide better access to Palmdale Airport, Joergenson said.