Villaraigosa Announces Coalition to Speed Up Measure R Transit Construction

ride_metro_with_the_mayor.jpgRide it all the way to Santa Monica in 2020?  Image:Ted Soqui/LA Weekly.

At a meeting of business leaders earlier today, Mayor Villaraigosa officially announced his plan, previewed earlier today in the Times, to aggressively pursue private and federal funds to complete all rail projects included in Measure R within ten years.  Villaraigosa has often talked about completing his favorite project, the Subway to the Sea.

Basically, Villaraigosa is hoping to build a county-wide coalition to begin finding new sources of revenue for rail projects.  Whether these funds come from public or private sources has yet to be determined. 

One part of the plan that is sure to be controversial is his plan is to front-load funding for transit projects over the next ten years.  By pushing transit first, the Mayor hopes to attract more federal and private investment.  Villaraigosa is hoping to avoid a fight amongst rail activists by moving all projects quickly at once.  Metro estimates he’s going to need to find another $12 billion in funds, in addition to the $13 billion of Measure R funds that are available for rail projects, to meet his ambitious goal.  All of this is assuming he can convince the Metro Board to go along with his plan in the first place.

The full text of the advisory, helpfully provided by Neon Tommy, is also available after the jump.  If more details become available later today, this post will be updated.  (update: I just replaced the advisory with the release.  Not a lot of new news, but still a big thanks to Neon Tommy.)

MAYOR ANTONIO R. VILLARAIGOSA
City of Los Angeles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2009

Contact:
Lisa Hansen
213-978-0658
-or-
Press Office
213-978-0741

MAYOR PLANS TO ACCELERATE PUBLIC TRANSIT PROJECTS

“30/10” Will Push to Accelerate Use of Measure R Transit Funding

LOS ANGELES – Promoting his vision for sustainability and an improved public transportation system, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today announced
that he is beginning to build a coalition to support the acceleration of the 30 years of transit projects included in Measure R into 10 years.  The “30/10” program would leverage the $13 billion approved by voters for 12 transit projects to expedite construction and bring jobs
and environmental benefits to LA sooner.

"Thirty years is too long to wait when we can build all twelve projects in the next decade,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “When we have workers
hungry for high quality jobs, companies that are ready to hire, the dirtiest air, and the worst traffic congestion in the nation, thirty years is just too long.”

In a speech at the Los Angeles Business Council’s Annual Mayoral Housing, Transportation, and Jobs Summit held today at UCLA, the Mayor
outlined his plan to build a coalition of transit advocates, environmentalists, business, labor, health advocates, and community
groups to support the “30/10” program.

The “30/10” Coalition would draw on the same groups that last year helped pass Measure R, the local half-cent sales tax, by 68% during a
recession.

"This is about transforming a region, increasing access to and efficiency of public transit and creating sustainable communities and a
thriving economy,” Mayor Villaraigosa added.

Preliminary projections of the sustainability benefits of “30/10” include:

●       1.8 times more carbon dioxide removed from the air
●       2.4 times more nitrous oxides removed from the air
●       2.2 times fewer miles driven
●       4.2 times more new rail boardings
●       The creation of over half a million jobs through 2020.

Because Measure R will provide approximately $13 billion for transit projects over the next 30 years, the MTA will have the ability to repay
funds with guaranteed local sales tax revenues. This unique local match capacity is expected to open opportunities for advancing the funding and
paying it back over time.

Once a strong coalition of support for “30/10” is built, they will reach out to Congress, the Obama Administration, and others to build
support and develop a financing plan for the acceleration of the projects.

Last week the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved its Long Range Transportation Plan for the next 30 years.  The
12 projects are estimated to cost $20 billion and include $6.8 billion in non-Measure R funding.

The Measure R transit projects Villaraigosa plans to accelerate include:

●       The Westside subway extension
●       The Regional Connector light rail connector in Downtown Los Angeles
●       The Crenshaw corridor transit project
●       The Foothill Extension of the Metro Gold Line
●       The Expo light rail line on the Westside Phase 2
●       The Green Line connection to LAX
●       The Green Line extension to the South Bay
●       A San Fernando Valley 405 Corridor Connection
●       The Orange Line Canoga Extension
●       West Santa Ana Branch Corridor
●       San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways
●       Eastside Extension to El Monte or Whittier

###

20 thoughts on Villaraigosa Announces Coalition to Speed Up Measure R Transit Construction

  1. Besides my previous comments about needing a rail construction expert installed at Metro

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2009/10/30/todays-headlines-417/#comment-45471

    As I noted at LA Observed in a guest blogger entry

    While it is well poised for federal funding (a full funding grant agreement in the parlance of transitspeak) the reauthorization of federal transportation funding has been bogged down due to that old bugaboo, too many needs and not enough money to satisfy them (plus the trust funds that draw on gas taxes are falling short of even funding the status quo).

    http://www.laobserved.com/visiting/2009/10/take_transit_seriously_la_obse.php

    Everyone knows the federal gas tax is long overdue to be raised but seemingly nobody wants to broach the subject, as is clear from the excellent coverage on this blog by Elana Schor tracking the status of reautjhorization. Health care and energy are the big topics right now and transportation has been mostly put aside as “we’ll get back to it” status.

    I have long felt there exists the outline of a possible grand alliance of mutual cooperation between LA and other big cities (like the bay area, NY, Denver) that could be worked out since they also have big projects that need funded and having everyone work together to increase the size of the pie is a better strategy than fighting over scraps. I wish I knew if that is what the lobbyists the city of L.A. and Metro have in Washington are working toward (maybe with the near secretive New Starts Working Group).

  2. Bravo!

    I have long complained (not that anyone was listening) that the primary with L.A.’s transit system was that it’s not a system, but a series of trains that maybe, one day, will connect into a working network if we’re lucky enough to live long enough to see it completed.

    The brilliance of Denver’s light rail system is that it was built out all at once, so they had a viable transit system from day one. While funding is an obvious hurdle, speeding up these projects would give the city the functional, working system it needs to actually get people out of their cars.

    Now if the mayor would put the same sort of commitment behind building a functional bikeway system, we might actually be getting somewhere.

  3. On a somewhat related topic, just stumbled across the old video/documentary “Taken For A Ride” about how LA’s world-class transit system was ruined by the automobile lobby. http://bit.ly/sP1Md A very good watch. It’ll make you angry, possibly depressed, and there’s no way to get back what we once had, but …. at least we can dream. (Didn’t know who Alfred B. Sloan was, but I’ll never look at those NPR “commercials re “…with generous support from the Alfred B. Sloan Foundation” in the same light again.)

  4. Yeah, we’ll see where this goes. The highway expansion plans in the MTA’s LRTP are a source of big contracts to union labor pools, but then again so are the rail projects.

    I think Antonio doesn’t care about bikes because we such small potatoes. For $100 million he could make LA the most bike-able city on the west coast in one year. $100 million wouldn’t pay for a bathroom at a train station. There aren’t enough big contracts to throw around, and milk for campaign contributions when it comes to cycling.

  5. Side note: that image is from the “Subway Mayor” article in the 08/19/05 issue of the LA Weekly—I worked on the design and layout.

    The article is filled with decades of missteps and failures despite well-funded and visionary plans, so I am tempted to take the viability of Villaraigosa’s timeline with a grain of salt.

    IMHO, what we could use is a west-coast version of Janette Sadik-Khan, someone who will push a high-profile and quickly-constructed bicycle network as an affordable part of L.A.’s transportation system. This will be the person that history will label a visionary.

  6. I am pleased that Mayor V decided to forego running for governor and finish what he started with his subway campaign promise. Yes yes, everyone here will whine and complain “Hmph. Sure, he’s trying more than anyone to expand rail, but what about my bike!” We should be grateful he’s trying this hard for anything transit related. L.A. is too big to be a major bike city. But if we have a world-class rail system, angelinos will start to at least think of alternatives to cars, and that’s a good thing.

  7. Oh yeah, and I forgot my obligatory:

    Thank God Measure R passed. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be entertaining this possibility.

  8. “L.A. is too big to be a major bike city.”

    That’s like saying LA is not dense enough for rail. There are plenty of places where bikes will work.

  9. @angle

    Really? I used this image once before and someone at Metro took credit for it. I’ll have to go back in my notes, this was like 20 months ago, and find out who. I wonder if they were just jerking my chain

  10. Think about it? Hell, we’ve don it already! The LADOT paints our stuff over in a matter of weeks. The same department has stalled on nearly every significant bike facility for years.

    Plans are still afoot, but it’s always small-scale stuff that is more symbolic than anything else.

  11. Oh was that a Dept. of DIY project? I missed it. Pictures?

    And I was saying it more as street theater: chalking up 20-25 miles of bike lanes over a week or something like that, and recording LADOT painting over them.

  12. dudeonabike: You might want to take a look at historian Martha Bianco’s review of ‘Taken For a Ride’.

    ‘Taken For A Ride’ is one of the great propagators of the “GM destroyed LA’s transit” urban legend, because many well-meaning people will believe anything the see on PBS. As a long-time student of LA history, I’ve spent s lot of time researching the Red Cars and their history from primary sources, and I have to say that Bianco’s review strikes me as accurate in its particulars and reasonable in its conlusions.

  13. bikinginla:

    Denver’s Light Rail was NOT built “all at once” as you state.

    It was originally opened from Broadway and I-25 (Gates Rubber) to 30th and Downing in Five Points through downtown via the Stout/California couplet. This opening in 1994.

    Then it was extended alongside US85 to Littleton, opening in 2000

    Finally the T-Rex portion was built to Denver Tech Center/Lincoln along I-25 and to the Nine Mile Park & Ride along I-225 in 2006.

    Built faster than LA Metro? Sort of. Built all at once? No.

  14. Houston managed to get federal funding to build four additional lines to be completed by 2012. This was ground-breaking.

    It does have the nation’s most productive light rail line (40,000 boardings on a 7.5 mile line) and just getting that project was a major task. Tom DeLay once tried to withhold all federal funding in an effort to get Harris County’s MTA to stop building the line. Even Henry Waxman didn’t egregiously abuse his powers in stopping the subway in the 1980s.

  15. You know, I can’t find the email, so this one might be entirely on me. Regardless, thanks for the fix. And if you’re the one that gave me the bad advice, and are reading this: for shame!

  16. “…Antonio can expedite these projects simply by programming highway money towards transit.”

    Ah, no he can’t. The Mayor might be able to advocate same but he has no final direct control of how funds are spent. He only controls 4 votes on the metro Board, plus long range plans are drawn via complex processes involving SCAG, the feds, Air Resources Board etc. And the realpolitick is that to build consensus requires dealing with various dueling priorities, etc.

    But then that is at a level of nuance that evades Mr. Damien Goodmon, despite his claims of superior political expertise.

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