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Metro (Sort Of) Decides on Its Stimulus List

2_26_09_metro.jpgToday, the Metro Board of Directors passed a list of projects which it will use to apply for stimulus funds as they become available.  Their list, available at the end of this document, is actually quite a bit greener than one might expect with pages of bicycle, pedestrian and transit projects dominating the document and only a few highway expansion projects.  While not perfect, and there's certainly no talk of closing Broadway to cars, it is a clear improvement from the list that was submitted by the city at the end of December of last year.  Metro is expecting between $850 million and $950 million from the stimulus for L.A. County.

However, we are talking about the Metro Board of Directors so nothing is ever easy.  A debate over whether to include Phase I of Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension in the list of projects ensued.  Some board members felt including them was a mistake because there is pretty clear language in the stimulus that any project receiving funds would have NEPA clearance, and neither project does.  Eventually, the Board decided to include the projects on their wish list, but with the caveat that if the federal government announces guidelines that would preclude the project, then they can change the list.  The final list of projects isn't due for another couple of months.

Other highlights from the discussion on came during the public comment.  Local transit agencies supported Metro's proposal to allocate $215 million to $315 million to local agencies.  The Bus Rider's Union brought a small series of speakers to ask that more funds be used to expand the bus fleet, even though Metro is hoping to see $180 million in funds to replace the bus fleet.  Erin Steva, a local advocate for CALPIRG suggested that a Fix-it-First approach could use federal funds to for repair projects that are paid for by operating funds thus allowing Metro to lower its operating budget in advance of the state cuts.  Polling reveals that nationwide, people approve of CALPIRG's approach to spending stimulus funds.

Photo: Stuck in Suburbia/Flickr

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