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Posts from the "Gloria Molina" Category

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Metro Board Wrap: If Measure R Projections Are Down, What Happens to Projects When Funds Run Out?

During today’s debate over whether or not to approve a “life of the project” budget for Phase II of the Expo Line, County Supervisor Gloria Molina used the occasion to quiz Metro staff on new projections for Measure R revenue.  Originally, the half-cent county-wide sales tax was projected to produce $40 billion in revenue over thirty years.  However, in large part due to the Great Recession and high local unemployment rates, that projection has dropped 10% in two and a half years to $36 billion.

Molina takes a ride on the Gold Line Eastside Extension

So if the sales tax is coming in 10% lower than originally projected, then what happens to projects when Measure R funds run out.  As Metro rushes ahead with “the 30/10 Initiative” many of those sales tax dollars coming in later years, closer to 2040 than today, would likely be used up when it’s time to construct projects at the tail end of the program?  Metro staff didn’t really have a good answer, and neither does the Measure R Expenditure Plan nor the authorizing legislation.

If Congress and the President move to make 30/10, or Fast Forward America, a reality then the projects funded on the back-end would be highway capacity expansion projects.  Over $6.3 billion in Measure R funds are designated towards highway projects that have no timeline to begin, much less complete, construction.  Included in that list is the highly controversial “710 Gap Closure,” a favorite project of Molina.

If no action is taken to accelerate transit projects, the last transit projects to be funded are the Westside Subway Extension and the Green Line Extension down to the South Bay Corridor.  The total Measure R cost of these two projects is over $5 billion with $4.074 billion going towards the Subway.  There is some irony that the project that would be most endangered would be the Westside Subway, which was the center piece of the campaign to get Measure R passed in the first place.

Other notes from the Board Meeting: Read more…

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What Was the Point of Yesterday’s Half Hour Filibuster from Gloria Molina?

10_23_09_eastside_grondbreaking.jpgBetter days: Molina, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Villaraigosa, Former Metro CEO Roger Snoble, and Board Member Pam O'Connor at the Eastside Extension Groundbreaking.  Photo: Metro Library

(Editor's note: Originally, this was going to be a post written by Dana Gabbard about Metro placing their public Gold Line Eastside Extension documents online.  As I was writing the introduction, the story got away from me.  A deep hat tip to Dana for his help with this article and you can see the Metro presentation on the extension at the Transit Coalition Website.)

As was noted in Streetsblog's coverage of the Metro Board Meeting, and more with its own article at The Source, yesterday County Supervisor Gloria Molina held the floor for roughly a half hour, delivering a powerful rant against Metro staff concerning the soon-to-be-opened Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension.  Molina accused staff of pushing for the opening of an unsafe line for political reasons, and only doing work for certain favored members of the Board.  Meanwhile her fellow Board members, and L.A. County voters, received a lesser tongue lashing for intentionally short-changing the Eastside.

While I admit that I find Molina's monthly displays of self-pitying on behalf of the San Gabriel Valley, where admittedly I don't live so I'm hardly an expert on the area, to be an exercise in self-promotion; this time she came armed with reports and concerned locals to raise the question:  Is the Gold Line Eastside ready to be opened as a safe line?  The evidence seems to say that it is not.

Yesterday's rant was hardly the first time people have raised questions about the Extension.  Safety concerns have been raised by residents from Little Tokyo through the Eastside and into L.A. County.  This summer, Metro began to go into communities to explain why and how the Eastside Extension would be safe.  A good example of their public presentations can be found at Little Tokyo Unblogged

Many in the group were equally dismayed at the lack of barriers or gates to prevent an accident. MTA staff assured us, however, that gates are being evaluated, and that a study on the issue will be released in July or August...and there will be an opportunity for public comments.

The other questions that came up time and again were the lack of language-appropriate signage (some of the signs that were up did have Spanish translations). Many in the group expressed concerns over how local Japanese and Korean residents, most especially seniors, would be able to read the warnings. The MTA is also going to take into account the timing of pedestrian lights to enable seniors sufficient time to cross sidewalks.

The safety issued remained a simmering local issue as rumored opening dates came and went, but the arguments became more heated after Dakota Smith, the editor of the pro-development blog Curbed, which referred to the above quote from Little Tokyo Unblogged as "fear mongering," almost got hit by a train that was testing the tracks while she touring the future Eastside train stations.  Dakota seemed even more annoyed by the somewhat bemused attitude of Metro staff even as they tried to explain how the incident was her fault and the crossings are completely safe.

While Curbed was annoyed, local concerns were still being raised causing Metro to bring in a group of rail safety experts from San Diego, San Francisco and Arlington, V.A., to review the preparations being made for the opening, currently rumored to be November 15.  Their somewhat confusing findings could be summarized as: this line is safe, but here's what needs to be done to make it safer.  For example, the safety experts noted that ""no trespassing" signs were placed in appropriate places but advised that the wording on the signs be larger.  Yesterday, Molina admitted that she had no idea the status of these proposed changes, which undercuts her overall message that the staff isn't addressing safety concerns; especially since staff claims that they're working on it and the Board passed $4.5 million in funds to complete the improved safety standards earlier in the meeting.  The major fix will be miles of fencing separating the tracks from the community.  How they were planning on opening that line without fencing is beyond me.

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