Metro Board Plans Hearing Tomorrow on 2009 Long Range Plan

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Tomorrow, the Metro Board will have a special meeting at 1 P.M. to hear public feedback on the yet-to-be-released Long Range Transportation Plan.  While it’s true that the 2008 draft of the plan is available, a lot has happened since then.  Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane before tomorrow’s meeting.

In February of 2008, ironically around the same time that the City of Los Angeles held hearings on the Bike Master Plan, Metro announced an innovative campaign to receive feedback and opinions on its upcoming Long Range Transportation Campaign, the Imagine Campaign.  The message was for Angelenos to think big about what they wanted to see in the future of Los Angeles transportation.  They advertised the campaign on billboards, on buses and even on the radio and accepted feedback in person at public meetings, on their website or even on the infrequently updated Imagine Blog.  I have to admit that while I was impressed that they were thinking outside the box, I was also miffed that none of their promotional materials encouraged people to think about walking or cycling.

Nevertheless, the campaign helped produce a Draft Long Range Transportation Plan that seemed more about laying the groundwork for what would become known as Measure R than it was about laying out a firm vision for the future.  The Draft 2008 LRTP, which is still the most recent draft available to the public and available here, spelled out two visions for LA County, one with new funding and one without.

When it was time for the Metro Board to vote on the plan, they were in the midst of the funding debates over how to allocate potential Measure R funds, should the voters pass the measure.  Not wanting to alienate anyone, the Board voted to hold off on placing transit projects in any sort of tier system.  However they did manage to pass an amendment to the 2001 LRTP that allowed them to apply for funds for their "Congestion Pricing that isn’t in effect during rush hour" plan.

Then, Measure R passed and the project delivery time line was set for them.  With cash in hand, the Metro Board now had the framework for its Long Range Transportation Plan.  That was over six months ago, and we still don’t have a finalized LRTP that the Board can vote on.  Heck, the most recent draft plan on the website is still dated 2008 and hasn’t been touched since Measure R has passed.

In April of this year, the Metro Board had a discussion of the LRTP on the agenda, but sadly it was discussing more amendments to the 2001 plan.  Last month, the Board was stopped from changing its plan on how it was going to spend Measure R, apparently it’s against the law to change a timetable approved by voters; but it still advanced various project time lines, including the Gold Line Foothill Extension, without a funding source identified to fund them.  Apparently those sources will be identified before the LRTP is passed.

So what do we know for sure about the plan that Metro is holding a hearing on tomorrow?  Well, the time line for Measure R projects is set.  The 2010 budget is passed.  There aren’t proposed changes to bicycle or pedestrian funding despite the $40 billion in Measure R revenue and the lofty language in the draft LRTP.  Of course, none of that information is compiled in one place as of yet, maybe they’ll have a draft plan available at the hearing tomorrow?

Tomorrow’s hearing on the now 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan is set to begin at 1 P.M. Metro Standard Time, meaning anytime between 1 P.M. and 1:30 P.M. Pacific, but given the warnings at last week’s Metro Board meeting about being on time or not getting to submit public comments (which is also a violation of state law, but we’ll save that for another time), I would get there early or on time.

I expect that tomorrow we’re going to see contingents from the bicycling community join the "Metro Regulars" of the BRU, Transit Coalition, SoCATA, I Will Ride, Fix Expo and others.  I’ll actually be live tweeting the meeting for the first time tomorrow, so make sure to follow at twitter.com/lastreetsblog.

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