LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. today in order to pitch a plan to accelerate funds for transportation projects.

The trip is Villaraigosa’s second to Washington this month in order to promote America Fast Forward, a national plan that leverages local money in order to obtain more federal funding for transportation faster.

The argument is that locking in at lower interest rates sooner will make large scale projects cheaper in the long term. Fast Forward is also seeking increased annual funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and an increase in the maximum percentage of the funding allotment that the act can finance.

Supporters say the plan’s creative financing would dramatically reduce the federal government’s traditional funding burden for transportation projects from about 80 down to 20 percent.

Villaraigosa’s trip is in part to announce expanded support for America Fast Forward, including U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure.

“As mayors of major economic hubs throughout the country, we have put together the construction projects and the dollars to pay for them–over time,” Villaraigosa said. “But time is of the essence now, when early construction of these projects can be done at much lower cost and result in the immediate infusion of higher paying jobs.”

While in Washington, Villaraigosa will also attend President Barack Obama’s speech on energy security at Georgetown University.

America Fast Forward is an national extension of Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative. That plan calls for using $40 billion in projected revenue for transportation projects Los Angeles County voters approved in 2008 as collateral for an advance on federal funding now. The so-called Measure R money from the half-cent sales tax would pay back the federal loan as revenue is generated through 2038.

America Fast Forward claims its financing plan would create one million jobs and $158 billion economic output.

The trip to Washington D.C. is Villaraigosa’s sixth since September.

By Richie Duchon | City News Service