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Bill to lift Wilshire subway ban gains

July 13, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

A U.S. Senate committee Thursday voted to lift a longtime ban on subway construction under Wilshire Boulevard, bringing subway backers a step closer to having the ban permanently lifted.

The Senate Appropriations Committee inserted language overturning the ban into its annual transportation, housing and urban development bill.

The 22-year-old ban has blocked federal funding for subway construction along the Wilshire corridor because of safety concerns over methane gas.

The Senate committee's approval is only one step in repealing the ban. The Senate bill and one passed by the House must go to the floor for debate, be reconciled and approved, and signed into law by President Bush.

The committee's action is a victory for politicians pushing for the Metro Red Line extension who say it is safe to build the subway.

California Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein issued statements immediately after the Senate panel's vote projecting that the ban would be repealed and that traffic congestion in a city notorious for tense drivers would be a bit more relaxed.

"This subway project is a critical step in reducing the terrible congestion in Los Angeles," Boxer said. "We've been told this project can be done safely, so it's time to move forward."

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