Highway Projects Highlight Another Packed Metro Board Agenda

4_22_09_sepulveda.jpgPanorama shot from the Sepulveda Pass trail head path. via Dan_Wuh/Flickr

Support for two major highway projects are highlighting another packed Metro Board agenda.

First, tucked away on the consent agenda is a motion to formally oppose AB 113, legislation by Assemblyman Portantino which would require Caltrans to sell state-owned property along the unconstructed areas of the State Highway Route 710, north of the I-10.  If Caltrans were to be forced to rid itself of that land, then the odds of completing the I-710 tunneling project would become somewhat more difficult.

The second road project up for discussion is the I-405 widening project.  With the Daily News reporting that the I-405 project won’t be completed anytime soon, as a result of the state’s budget surplus, Metro will meet it’s obligations by programming over $1.8 billion dollars to the project tomorrow.

$100 million of those funds will come from federal stimulus dollars.  Last week, the stimuls watchdogs at CALPIRG noticed that Metro has thus far received $450 million in stimulus funds for road projects, all of which was being used for road projects.  Metro’s Rick Jager assures me that Metro is expecting hundreds of millions of future dollars, all of which will go for transit.  It’s just the way Caltrans is dividing their funds, first were highway projects and next were transit projects. 

The rest of the $350 million will be divided amongst the communities in L.A. County as was outlined at Metro’ February meeting except $20 million that will go to improve the I-5.

While it’s premature to say what funds Metro will receive from the state for transit projects, Jager told Streetsblog the agency’s top priorities are Phase I of the Expo Line, the Foothill Extension of the Gold Line and the purchase of new buses.  Not on the stimulus list?  Damien Goodmon’s proposed grade separation projects for the South L.A. portion of the Expo Line.

Speaking of the Foothill Extension, don’t expect to see a lot of discussion on this project despite it’s placement as a top priority.  The excellent blog I Will Ride reports that director Fasana’s motion to amend the Long Range Transportation Plan to move the plan up the funding list was tabled in committee, despite the verbal assurances of those voting against it that the plan is very, very important.

For the rest of the board agenda, click here.