AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Villaraigosa, who is aggressively pursuing a mass-transit system in West Los Angeles, welcomed the congressman’s move. “Although this is one step in a process of many, it brings us closer to Mayor Villaraigosa’s goal of giving the city of Los Angeles a subway to the sea,” spokesman Darryl Ryan said. Waxman sponsored legislation that banned federal funding for Wilshire Boulevard subway construction after a 1985 methane-gas explosion at a Ross Dress for Less store in the Fairfax District, near the route of the subway. Subway construction continued into Hollywood, using local sales tax dollars until 1998, when the costs spiraled out of control and county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky persuaded Los Angeles County voters to ban local dollars from being used, essentially halting any further subway construction. But Waxman reversed himself after a panel of experts – including members he appointed – said building and operating a subway under Wilshire’s dangerous gas zones would be pose no greater risk than other subways in the United States. Almost 20 years after Rep. Henry Waxman helped shut down construction of a subway under Wilshire Boulevard, he introduced a bill Friday to lift his previous prohibition on tunneling in that corridor. Waxman’s legislation comes after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced this week that experts had determined that workers could safely build a subway through once-dangerous methane-gas zones. “I will make lifting the prohibition a priority,” Waxman, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement. “I am very pleased with the panel’s unanimous finding that tunneling can now be done safely.” Waxman’s bill is not likely to be heard until early next year. Wilshire Boulevard is considered the busiest corridor in the county, with buses running every 90 seconds during rush hour, and a top choice at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a subway route. But subways are expensive – at an estimated $300 million per mile – and federal funding would be essential. The next three-mile leg on Wilshire would cost $1 billion. Taking it to the sea would cost billions more. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, a longtime subway foe, said he would work with members of Congress to keep the prohibition in place. “The taxpayers overwhelmingly killed the costly, disruptive subway. Now the self-serving interests are trying to pull the wooden stakes from its heart,” he said. Lisa Mascaro, (818) 713-3761 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!