A House subcommittee Thursday gave its approval to a national transportation bill that includes $15 million to help pay for a massive parking structure the Walt Disney Co. says is central to its plans to expand Disneyland.
The unanimous voice vote means the funds have cleared the first of many hurdles before the money reaches Orange County hands. But the endorsement of the House Public Works and Transportation subcommittee bestows a sort of blessing on the $15 million and sends a green light signaling the rest of Congress to approve the bill.
The federal money would help build a 12,000-space garage that would allow Disneyland to remain open while the $3-billion Westcot construction is underway. Disney has not yet committed to building Westcot, but has said the parking garage--which would be one of the largest in the nation--is crucial if Westcot is ever to be constructed.
The federal funds would also pay for special car-pool lanes at the interchange of the San Diego and Costa Mesa freeways.
The Orange County Transportation Authority had sought money for the freeway improvement even before Westcot was proposed and considers the freeway project even more necessary to help the area accommodate traffic from such a massive tourist attraction.
The money is far from certain, however, and must now be approved by the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, the House and finally the Senate, where it is likely to fall into limbo for a time, officials said.
An additional $15.5 million was allocated last year for the same projects but has yet to be spent. If the new money is approved, it would mean that about 10% of the projects' $318-million tab would be paid for by the federal government.